Chennai/ Tindivanam, 9 February 2007: Chennai youth and representatives from pollution-impacted communities in SIPCOT, Cuddalore and Mettur today left Tindivanam town on a cycle tour to spread awareness about environmental and human rights violations in SIPCOT Cuddalore due to industrial pollution. The tour resumed from Tindivanam where it was earlier suspended in November 2006 following a tragic incident that claimed a life of K. Gurubalan, a cyclist from the group. “Industrial pollution has converted Cuddalore into a disaster zone. We are pained at the horrible environmental conditions under which people in SIPCOT Cuddalore live, and we’re undertaking this cycle tour to appeal to the Government to improve conditions in Cuddalore,” said Rupesh Kumar, a representative of Youth for Social Change, one of the coorganisers of the event. The tour will cover a distance of about 150 kilometers and arrive in Chennai on 11 February 2007.
Cuddalore is a toxic hotspot. Numerous reports, including by the State Human Rights Commission admit that Cuddalore is overpolluted and that no new polluting industries should be set up in the region. Rather than mitigate pollution, the Government is planning to target Cuddalore residents with more and more polluting industries. Currently, the villagers are fighting a desperate battle to prevent the setting up of a PVC plastic factory by Chemplast Sanmar in Semmankuppam village. A 1320 MW thermal power plant, several textile dyeing industries, a 6 million tonnes per annum oil refinery and a scheme to pump toxic effluents from textile dyeing units in Tiruppur is part of plans to sacrifice Cuddalore.
The tour will hold public meetings at Tindivanam, Chegalpettau, Kovalam and will be joined by students of Vidya Sagar in Besant Nagar before culminating at Urur Kuppam temple square where it will be welcomed by the renowned Tamil actress Kalai Rani followed by a solidarity meeting of support groups from Chennai and a cultural evening.
The tour was first launched in November 2006, where 19 members including youth from Chennai visited SIPCOT Cuddalore to have a first hand experience of the living conditions and environmental pollution in the area and bring the message back to Chennai on the cycles. The tour had covered a distance of about 100 km and left Pondicherry when the accident happened. 20 year old K. Gurubalan drowned in a pond after he entered it for bathing while taking a break en route. “We were all shocked at the incident, Guru was deeply affected by the horrendous environmental condition in SIPCOT Cuddalore. His death has made our resolve to fight injustice in Cuddalore stronger,” said Jeny Doly of Youth for Social Change who will be joining the tour for the first time.
For more details contact:
Nityanand Jayaraman 9444082401
Shweta Narayan 9444024315
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal; The Other Media; Cuddalore District Consumer Protection Organisation, Youth for Social Change, SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring, DEPORT.
No 42a, 1st Floor, 5th Avenue, Besant Nagar, Chennai – 600 090