After nearly a century of industrialization, India is alarmingly behind in terms of its infrastructure to safeguard its environment
or the health of people from pollution.
Air pollution monitoring and regulation in particular are lacking, with the world’s fourth largest economy for a long time having no standards for some of the most toxic and commonly found air
In India, polluting facilities are almost always located among communities belonging to “lower castes” – Backward Castes or the
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Without exception, the human rights violations are further compounded when communities seek to organize and take action against pollution.
Goaded by the industry, the state comes down heavily on any attempt by communities, especially from disadvantaged caste or economic backgrounds, to confront polluters or make regulators do their jobs.
One such area being targeted for large industrial development projects by chemical manufacturers is the Cuddalore area of Tamilnadu.
Cuddalore is the site of a chemical industrial estate notorious for its pollution and related human rights violations among communities living in and around the estate.
The project promoters have worked
to support the demands of the community for more than 2 years now, including in a successful campaign in Cuddalore to prevent the setting up of a 170,000 tons per year PVC factory. The project promoters have access to the elected representatives of village Governments, and to villagers, not to mention the local public interest organizations. The project proposal to expand throughout
India has been discussed both with representatives of village governments,village leaders and the local NGOs nationally and received unconditional support.
India CEM’s capacity has grown dramatically since it was launched in 2003.
CEM staff have been empowered to conduct trainings on environmental monitoring, interpret and effectively use the data in campaigns and adapt models of effective advocacy in different cutural and political situtations throughout diverse areas in India.
Successfully bringing together members of pollution impacted communities from different parts of India and internationally through the First International Bucket Brigade and Community Environmental & Health Monitoring Campaign in collaboration with GCM and Community Health Cell (Bangalore) in February 2008 to share experiences and strategize on capacity building to face various challenges facing communities.
Grudging acceptance by Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board of the integrity of data generated by Cuddalore Monitor Team (SACEM)
Reliance of the agencies on SACEM for information regarding pollution and guidance with regard to monitoring industries.
Joint patrolling of industries, including night-vigils by agency staff-SACEM to monitor industries.
Cuddalore Collector appoint SACEM monitors in Committees set up for monitoring industries who have the power to inspect the industry at any time. For the first time in Cuddalore a community representative has been appointed in such committees which are mostly known to have industry persons only.
Increase in capacity in outreach and mobilization among monitors, although mobilization is an area where Cuddalore monitors are very weak.
Successful opposition and to the 1320 MV Thermal Power Plant in Cuddalore and a larger capacity building in Cuddalore communities against new polluting projects.
Initiation at the national level of a process of standards setting for VOCs through the launch of the report Smokescreen.
Halted work on the illegal Thermal Power plant inside Chemplast's facility in Mettur.
Increased awareness and capacity building in Mettur and Salem on Chemplast Sanmar's and Malco's Pollution.
In Kodaikanal, where CEM is extending support with health monitoring and legal assistance for ex-workers from Hindustan Lever's mercury thermometer factory, we (workers, lawyer and us)
have managed to convince the High Court about the likelihood of
exposure-related injury. Further action is awaited on this issue in the next hearing of the case