The struggle by people to root out polluting plywood manufacturing units from residential areas in Perumbavoor is entering a new phase of confrontation. While many of the industrial units that have track record of flouting rules and regulations continue to function, the people are set to harden their stand on the issue.
At Rayamangalam, one of the panchayats acutely hit by pollution caused by the plywood units, the Environment Protection Samithi, the people’s organization pioneering the stir, have launched a relay dharna in front of the panchayat office.
The dharna has completed a fortnight and the activists are going on an awareness drive to seek the support of the residents of all the 20 wards constituting the Rayamangalam panchayat prior to the launch of a massive agitation in the next phase.
Even as the movement against the plywood units is gaining momentum, the manufacturers are in no apparent mood to relent. At Peechanimukal in Rayamangalam, there was a move to install machinery for setting up a new unit. This was resisted by the residents which resulted in an attack reportedly by the supporters of the industrialist. A few of the activists sustained injuries and have been hospitalized.
The Samithi activists allege that thugs were brought from outside for attacking the former.
A case has been registered by the Kuruppampady police.
The industrial units which violated norms and had been functioning without the necessary licences are reportedly making frantic efforts to get their operations regularized. About 300 erring units have been identified in the Expert Committee report.
The people in the pollution-hit villages are facing serious health problems and the Samithi is planning to organise a survey by a reputed agency. On an average, at least one person is dying of cancer every week in the area, according to the activists.
Though the Samithi was expecting action from authorities following a report submitted by an Expert Committee appointed by the Supreme Court in a pending case against the plywood units in Perumbavoor, measures are yet to be initiated.
The fact that the district administration and Pollution Control Board are yet to take stock of the situation and rein in the erring units has compelled the activists to think of new strategies to get popular support and ensure that justice is meted out.