Cycle Rally Reception at Chengalpattu – Songs and Speeches Mark the Day
Nity reports from Chengalpattu, 11 February, 7:00 am: We covered a distance of about 70 km yesterday from Tindivanam to Chengalpettu. The first half of the journey was very pleasant as the weather was nice. We took a lot of breaks on the way. The route itself was a treat to the eyes as the entire area is full of water bodies. Though it was a beautiful site we also shivered at the thought of what the future of the lakes would be given the government is aggressively planning new projects on the lakes of the area. In Tindivanam itself there are plans to fill up two lakes. A government medical college and a bus station will be built on the lakes. The cyclists were amused at the irony of the situation since this was happening in the home town of Minister of Health Dr. Anbumani Ramdoss of Patali Makkal Katchi (PMK) who has often talked about cleaning of tanks and lakes.
About 30 km from Tindivanam there is the famous Madurantakam lake. The lake is so massive that it looks like a sea. We saw a lot of encroachment on the lake. The highway has been constructed right on the banks of the lake also we saw massive earth movers near the lake and it seems that the government is constructing a bus station on a portion of the lake.
We reached Chengalpettu and had an hour and half long meeting near the general hospital. There were songs and skits presented which related to the water shortage in the Palar basin on which Chengalpettu is located. The villagers explained that despite being in a water rich area illegal sand mining and extraction of water by companies to supply it to Chennai has made water a scarce resource in the region. G. K. Amrithalingam gave an impassioned speech on Cuddalore and informed the people about the impending dangers in Cuddalore. He appealed to the public to join hands to fight the Chemplast PVC plant proposal in Cuddalore. A Mani from Mettur spoke about Chemplast and its pollution in Mettur. He informed the people that both Chemplast and MALCO withdraw water from Stanley reservoir and then discharge poisoned water into the river Cauveri. Mani also questioned the priority of the nation highlighting that supplying water to the industries is more important to the government than quenching the thirst of water starved villagers. He informed the people that more than 2000 acres of land have been laid waste because of the pollution from Chemplast. He mentioned that as a victim of Chemplast pollution he did not want any one to face a similar fate and that was the reason why he took leave from his employer to join the rally and spread the message.
The fisher leader from Cuddalore Kuppam on the East Coast Road (not to be confused with Cuddalore district) spoke next and emphasised that Cuddalore is not a stand alone story of pollution but similar stories are everywhere. Highlighting the problems of Manali, Kalpakam atomic plant and industrial discharge in Buckhingam Canal the leader emphasised that Cuddalore was in making everywhere.
Jeny Doly of Youth for Social Change spoke about the role of youth and mentioned that the youth cannot keep quiet in these times when there is so much of injustice as they are the leaders of tomorrow. She mentioned that the youth of today cannot make the mistake of adults of today. She spoke about Gurubalan and said that last time also youth led the rally and this time their motivation is stronger many of his friends felt it is important to take the tour forward and are supporting the campaign. She mentioned that as the youth see the industrial pollution in Cuddalore as a symptom of a much larger malice of development in India and their group will encourage youth to question the path of development that the country is embarking upon and steer it towards environmentally sustainable and socially just road.