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TN villagers protest plastic factory plan

9/6/2005
The Peninsula- Qatar

Chennai: About 500 villagers and activists in Tamil Nadu yesterday began a 300 km walk rallying people in support of a call to prevent the setting up of a plastics factory that they say will cause pollution and ill health.

The activists of the eight-day walk from the Mettur region to Cuddalore, 400 km south of Chennai, are protesting a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant being set up by privately-owned Chemplast Sanmar at Cuddalore.

Protestors say, the 140,000-tonnes per annum capacity plant being set up in the State Industries Promotion Corporation Of Tamilnadu (SIPCOT) Industrial Estate will consume groundwater at the rate of 120,000 litres per hour and use a highly explosive raw material, Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM), which is also known to cause cancer.

As police denied the protestors permission to begin their march from Mettur, 500 km west of Chennai (where the Cauvery river has been dammed on the Tamil Nadu side), the protestors began their march from neighbouring Salem town.

The existing Chemplast factories in Mettur have laid waste more than 2,000 acres of agricultural land, polluted groundwater with toxic chemicals, and contributed to widespread ill-health among its workers and communities.

"We have been poisoned by Chemplast for the past 50 years and we do not want anybody else to experience a similar fate," said a protestor.

"We emphathise with the people of Cuddalore who have also been at the receiving end of pollution."

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