Where is People’s Right to Livelihood? A Report on Karikal Public Hearing on Industrial Pollution

Kariakal, 1 August 2008: Mahathma Gandhi said that backbone of India is villages and agriculture and he insisted that they should be protected. But India today is moving away from what the Father of Nation told us. Villagers are turned into Industrial Estates and agriculture is becoming obsolete. People who depend upon agriculture are driven away from their source of livelihood. This is what happening in Karaikal a district of Puducherry Union Territory.

The district is highly industrialized as there are 876 industries in 596 acres of land. The industrialization process is highly insensitive to the environment and ecology of the region. Highly dangerous industries have been located in or very close to residential areas. Sand dunes and estuaries are not spared . Fishing community is threatened of it very existence. Majority of the industries are located near the residential areas of Dalits, MBC or minority and socially vulnerable peoples.

A Public Hearing was organized in Karaikal on 23rd July 2008. The panel of Juries were Dr.Jeeva (Erode), Dr.Snathanakumar (Scientist), Mr. Nityand Jayaraman (environmentalist and Journalist- Chennai), Mrs. Jesu Rethinam (Advocate, Nagai) and Dr.Muthukumarasamy (Veterinarian, Poryar) and the panel was headed by Justice M.Gopalsamy (Retired Judge, Chennai).

People from various affected villages, including Vanjoore (North and east). Kumsakattalai, Kanjipuram Kovilpathu, Mudhalimedu, Vadapathi, Thenpathi, Keezaveli, Vanjoore medu, MGR Road and Parvapettai deposed in the Public Hearing. Most of the deponents were women indicating the sufferings experienced by the women folks of the region.

People were very vocal and their deposition brought out the depleting condition of environment and livelihood. Their main contention was that the water resources, land-agriculture marine resources are looted or spoiled by the mindless development process. Every narration came from their bitter living condition and shook audiences.

Karaikal, a tail end area of Cauvery delta, is facing acute water crisis. The ground water of the peril coastal ecosystem is being polluted and ground water recharge is being prevented by closure of tanks.

Cuddalore SIPCOT Community Monitoring participated in this Public Hearing and registered its observations on the environment degradation and the status of livelihood of people of Karaikal.

The people of Karaikal should lead a struggle to protect their livelihood and we wish them success and assure our solidarity.

-T. Arulselvam
SACEM Monitor

Where is People’s Right to Livelihood? A Report on Karikal Public Hearing on Industrial Pollution
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