Bhopal Memorial cycle tour from Cuddalore to Chennai flagged off.
Cuddalore 28 November 2006: In an endeavor to strengthen their voices against pollution and spread awareness on their existing environmental conditions, youth from Chennai and residents from pollution impacted communities like Mettur, Manali and Cuddalore participated in the 280 km long cycle tour from Cuddalore to Chennai. Mr. Kolathur Mani of Thandai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam flagged off the tour from the Cuddalore Town Hall Cuddalore MLA Mr. Iyappan will see the cyclist off tomorrow after they complete the Cuddalore leg of the tour.
The tour will highlight the environmental conditions in SIPCOT Cuddalore and generate a public opinion against expansion of polluting industries in the area. Public interest groups feel that Cuddalore is being turned into another Bhopal. At least six pollution intensive industrial proposals are earmarked for Cuddalore. The residents fear that they will be sacrificed for the sake of industialisation. "SIPCOT is another Bhopal in making. Through this tour we want to seek support from other communities to join the struggle of SIPCOT residents against the existing pollution and further expansion of polluting industries", said Rupesh Kumar from the Youth for Social Change.
The 5-day long tour will travel through coastal villages of Cuddalore and Pondicherry and inland villages in Villipuram and Chengulpet to reach Chennai on the 2nd of December. The tour will highlight the dangers of mindless industialisation and urge for a people friendly, labour intensive development plans. The cyclists will use photo exhibition and films to communicate to residents en route.
The culmination of the tour on the 2nd of December coincides with the 22nd Anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Disaster, a grim reminder of the fact that Cuddalore is a slow motion Bhopal containing all the ingredients for a major disaster. SIPCOT Cuddalore has been the solitary source of a two-decade long environmental crisis for its residents since its inception in 1984. Despite the State Human Rights Commission's warnings in 1998 and Indian People's Tribunal's Report in 2000 that cautioned against any further expansion of the SIPCOT Industrial Estate, several highly toxic proposals are in store for Cuddalore. These include a 170, 000 tons per annum PVC plant, a six million tons per annum oil refinery, a 4000MW coal-fired power plant, a Textile Park a la Tiruppur and pipelines to pump effluents from leather tanneries in Ambur-Vaniyambadi and Tiruppur textile dyeing units into the Cuddalore sea. Senior government officials acknowledge that the logic behind this is to concentrate polluting industries in an already polluted place like Cuddalore instead of polluting new places. "Any development scheme that sacrifices one community to benefit another is unjust and should be abandoned", said M. Nizamudeen one of the organizers.
For more information contact Dharmesh - 9444416546, Meghna - 9884333578
Issued by: SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring, Cuddalore District Consumer Protection Organisation, DEPORT, Youth for Social Change and The Other Media.
Supported by: West Gonur Farmers Welfare Association, Manali Youth Exnora, Students from Chennai, Liberation Tigers of Fisherfolks, South India Fishermen Welfare Association, Tamilnadu Meenavar Munnetra Kazhagam, Human Rights Initaitive of Tamilnadu, Pondycherry Unit of DYFI, Pondicherry Science Forum, Guide Chengalpet, Thandai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam.