15 August, 2012. METTUR — Fifteen goons, including one Mr. Kalai Kovan — a functionary of the ruling AIADMK — accosted G. Madeshwaran, Ganesan and Shreela Manohar at a tea-shop in Mettur today and threatened to kill them if they continue to highlight the pollution caused by Chemplast Sanmar. Madeshwaran and Ganesan belong to a prominent farmers union in Mettur that has been at the forefront of the fight against pollution by Chemplast, Vedanta-owned Malco and small chemical industries in the SIDCO industrial estate. Shreela works with a Chennai-based NGO that is supporting the struggle since 2005. Since 13 August, the trio had been distributing notices in Gonur Panchayat asking people to attend the 15 August Grama Sabha meeting and express their grievances. Gonur, an agricultural village, has abundant water in its wells, but cannot use it for agriculture as the water is contaminated. The farmers say this is due to pollution from Chemplast Sanmar, which operates 5 chemical plants including a PVC factory. A resolution by the Gonur village panchayat too highlights the pollution caused by Chemplast and seeks reparations for the ruined groundwater and the extra expense borne by the Government in supplying drinking water.
In an incident that happened in broad daylight, Kalai Kovan openly confronted Shreela and abused her using sexually derogatory words, and said the three activists would not leave the place alive. He then asked his supporters to bring weapons (machete, cycle chain and wooden rods), and warned them that he was from the ruling party.
This is the second incident in two months where contractors and goons who claim to be beneficiaries of Chemplast have threatened members of the farmers’ union and their supporters. In the previous incident, contractors engaged in loading and unloading coal in an illegal coalyard constructed by Chemplast disrupted a meeting of the farmers union. They even lodged a complaint with the police station alleging that the union and its supporters from Salem (Piyush Sethia) and Chennai (Shreela and Nityanand Jayaraman) were inciting villagers to resort to violence to take on the state and Chemplast. The farmers’ union has been supporting the residents of Greenpark, a residential layout, that is barely 50 metres from Chemplast’s coal yard. The coal storage yard was set up within 5 km of the River Cauvery in violation of a Government Order prohibiting the setting up or expansion of polluting activities in this region. The company did not obtain a Consent to Establish from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, and the Board too has condoned this illegality.
Shreela has filed a police complaint in Karumalaikoodal Police Station against Kalaikovan and others alleging criminal intimidation, threatening to kill and the use of abusive language.