We at GAIA would like to express our solidarity with you who are planning to walk in Cuddalore district for 4 days to gather support against the proposed PVC plant in SIPCOT Cuddalore. We are also aware that the original plan to walk 285kms from Mettur to Cuddalore had to be changed due to revocation of permission by local police allegedly acting upon the instructions of Chemplast Sanmar. We condemn this act of state complicity with a private company in quashing democratic dissent.
GAIA is a public interest network of over 500 groups and individuals in more than 77 countries working together for waste solutions. We are honoured to stand in unity with your just crusade to reclaim and defend your rights to life, health and safe environment from the chemical industry’s violations. The many communities within GAIA that are fighting incinerators and other health damaging waste disposal methods add their voice to your shout of protest against the contamination of your bodies, your children and surroundings.
In particular, we would like to acknowledge our appreciation of the Mettur residents and farmers who are leading this march to warn Cuddalore residents about the dangers of PVC and the track record of Chemplast Sanmar, which operates a highly polluting PVC factory in Mettur. Our solidarity is with the organisers — West Konur Farmers Welfare Association and SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors — and their supporters.
Your gathering today is a vital part of the Global Day of Action against Waste and Incineration that is being observed in more than 50 countries, including India, by over 150 citizens’ coalitions and groups. We are joining hands and taking action today in response to the growing waste and toxic crisis in our societies, which have been brought about by decades of crooked policies and practices that set aside the people’s right to equitable and sustainable development in favour of corporate profits.
SIPCOT Cuddalore today is a sad example of what happens when policy makers fail to connect with and listen to the people. After two decades of complaints by community members, which have fallen on deaf ears, SIPCOT is now a toxic hotspot waiting for a major chemical tragedy. We are alarmed by the first air quality measurements in Cuddalore conducted by the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring (SACEM), which found 22 toxic chemicals far beyond the USEPA limits. The results of an industry-funded research confirmed SACEM’s findings that ambient air in Cuddalore is dangerously polluted.
Allowing Chemplast Sanmar to open a PVC factory in Cuddalore will only exacerbate the chemical trespass into the ailing community. As early as 1998, the Tamilnadu State Human Rights Commission has already warned that SIPCOT industrial estate “cannot take more burden than that which has already ensued by the existing chemical industries,” and recommended that no more polluting industries be set up in the area.
The production of PVC, a poison plastic, will be an unacceptable and unmanageable burden to SIPCOT’s already overpolluted environment. Vinyl Chloride Monomer, that is proposed to be used as a raw material, is a known carcinogen, and a highly explosive chemical. Further, the proposed factory will introduce annually some 140,000 tonnes of PVC plastic into commerce and eventually into the environment. Disturbingly, India is the number two target, after China, for expansion by the PVC industry right now. PVC’s production, usage and disposal are associated with the release of deadly environmental poisons and persistent organic pollutants, including dioxins and furans. Even at infinitesimally low quantities, these chemicals can compromise children’s physical, mental and sexual development, and interfere with the reproductive, immune and endocrine systems.
We at GAIA are deeply moved by your perseverance to reclaim your fundamental rights to life, health and safe environment. We are one in suffering and in winning our shared battles for global environmental health and justice. GAIA joins you in saying “Enough is enough!” and calls upon the authorities, particularly the Union Ministry of Environment and the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board, to heed your demands:
- Reject Chemplast Sanmar’s PVC project in Cuddalore.
- Impose moratorium in the expansion or establishment of polluting industries in
Cuddalore and Mettur, and allow only non- polluting industries in the region.
- In Mettur and Cuddalore, remediate people’s health and rehabilitate the contaminated
environment and groundwater at polluters’ cost.
- Ensure that existing industries are compelled to operate a safe workplace for their
workers, and a healthy living environment for the communities.
Issued on 7 September 2005 on the occasion of the Global Day of Action against Waste and Incineration in solidarity with the anti-PVC march from Mettur to Cuddalore