KATHIKUDAM: AISA Joins the

Ongoing Struggle Against the Polluting Gelatine Corporate (NGIL) Endangering Life, Environment and Livelihood
Comrade Praveen from AISA in JNU has joined the Indefinite Hunger Strike in Kathikudam ( Thrissur district of Kerala) since 8 Nov as part of the ongoing protest against the illegal dumping of wastes by the gelatine manufacturing NGIL into the Chalakkudi River, a movement that gained momentum in the recent past. In 1975, the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) established the ‘Kerala Chemicals and Proteins Ltd.’ at Kathikudam, in partnership with Nitta Gelatine Inc., an MNC from Japan. Later, Mistubushi, HDFC, IDBI and SBI also became partners and subsequently the name of the company was changed to Nitta Gelatine India Ltd (NGIL) in 2008. This firm while producing Gelatine and its various by-products releases hazardous pollutants like Hydrochloric acid, lead, chromium etcetera with a huge amount of sludge. Animal wastes are also dumped in the Chalakkudi river. The river has been the primary source of irrigation for the entire locality. These wastes are also dumped in nearby places with a population of very high density. People have been suffering from lungs and skin diseases for around 30 years since the initiation of the company in 1979.Moreover the company utilizes more than 2 crores (20,000,000) litters of water from the river without any permission. For the past 5 years the Panchayat had withheld the license due to insufficient documents produced by the company. Only with the stay obtained from the Kerala High Court on the basis of the consent given by the Pollution Control Board, the company is still working. The total waste of the factory is calculated to be 80-100 tones per day which is dumped in the Chalakkudy river, a life line of several villages. Moreover, the NGIL has NOT been permitted by the local panchayat authorities to discharge highly polluted effluents into the river. The factory waste has even made well water in the surrounding areas completely unfit for domestic use. Water in streams and open wells cannot be used even for irrigation purposes. In the beginning, the company had a compost plant but over timewhen production increased, this has become non-functional. The company started to dump all the wastewhether solid or liquid into the river. The chemical waste of Kakkanadu plant of the same company, which is around 100 km. away, is also dumped from the Kathikudam plant. The waste carrying pump of the factoryends at the pump house of Kerala Water Authority which gives drinking water to several villages. This area with high levels of pollution has reported maximum number of cases of cancer patients in Kerala. The number of cancer patients in the village is higher than the national average. The village panchayat in fact ordered production inthe factory to

stop in 2009 and 2010 due to the pollution, but the company got clearance from the High Court tocontinue. The presence of huge tanks storing 30 lakhs liters of hydrochloric acid in the densely populated area of Kathikudam makes the situation potentially catastrophic and renders a nightmare to the local inhabitants. The issue of environmental degradation caused by the Company came into broad daylight in August 2009 when large amounts of fish died in Chalakkudi puzha as a result of the huge amounts of hazardous and lethal chemicals released out into the river. The local people took to protests against this plant, in July-August 2013. The protesters met with severe police crackdown unleashed by the Congress backed UDF government of Kerala.The state government of Kerala is still not ready to reconsider its approach on more than a decadeold struggle of the Kathikudam villagers for better living environment. The people of Kathikudam which is an agricultural village in the Chalakkudi river basin in Trissur district of Kerala have been protesting against a factory that is a threat to a clean and safe environment as well as to peoples’ right to live. The corporate-cabinet nexus at Plachimada, Vilappinsala, Laloor is repeating itself in all its possible forms at Kathikudam too this time! The Government has chosen to maintain a wary silence in this regard and seems to fulfill the conditions necessary for the exploits of an MNC that has gone the anti-people way! Had the Governments been vigilant and heedful to the people’s concerns during times of crisis, incidents of death and disease would not have stricken Plachimada ( Coca Cola), Kasargode (Endosulfan), Vilappinsala and Laloor the way it did. In a recent phase of the protest, Comrade Jaisan of the NGIL Action Council started an Indefinite Hunger Strike against this plant on 3rd November, in front of the NGIL Company. Comrade Praveen, Comrade Sandeep Luis, and Comrade Sanoop Luis from AISA had taken part in the agitation that began on 3rd November. On 8th November after Comrade Jaisan had been hauled up by the police, Comrade Praveen has joined the Indefinite Hunger Strike. AISA appeals to the student community to step up support for this movement, to strengthen the struggle in support for those putting up an unrelenting fight at Kathikudam. People have been participating in Sit In, Protests and Hunger Strikes to voice their dissent against this state sponsored injustice while the police have been resorting to violence in order to suppress all forms of people’s resistance. It is urgent that this corporate-govt. nexus be defeated, the polluting plant be shut down, villages and river be cleansed of pollutants and all affected people of the area including the employees of the plant be compensated. Another state backed corporate manufactured disaster must be stopped!

Please Do Not Remove Till 16 Nov, 2013

AISA