Special Correspondent

Speakers say Cuddalore on way to becoming another Bhopal

  • "Hazardous chemical unit is located near a residential area"
  • Report documents 72 environmental, legal violations by units in SIPCOT complex

    CHENNAI: Rapid industrialisation is posing a threat to the environmental security of Cuddalore which is on the way to becoming another Bhopal, speakers at a meeting on `Ongoing Human Rights Violations in Cuddalore' organised by Community Environmental Monitoring, an environmental rights group, on Saturday, said.

    More than two decades after the toxic methyl iso cyanate gas leak from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal killed nearly 20,000 people over the years and maimed thousands more, the city was still the site of an ongoing disaster as the groundwater had been contaminated, Satinath Sarangi, member of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and managing trustee of the Sambhavana Clinic, Bhopal, said. More than 25,000 men, women and children thus stood exposed to cancer-causing chemicals in the water from hand pumps.

    "What is happening to Cuddalore is almost like a parallel story, especially at the SIPCOT zone, as a hazardous chemical unit is located near a residential area," he added.

    The response of regulatory authorities such as the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the Inspectorate of Factories to the environmental crisis brewing in Cuddalore has been dismal, Nityanand Jayaraman of CEM, said.

    Report released

    A report, `Why Cuddalore is another Bhopal: an analysis of environmental, safety and regulatory infrastructure in SIPCOT Chemical Complex,' prepared by CEM, Cuddalore District Consumer Organisation, Global Community Monitor and The Other Media, was released by Madras University Vice-Chancellor, S. Ramachandran.

    "Suggestions should be made to the government to examine and implement steps to solve Cuddalore's problems. Though industrialisation causes environmental pollution, we should also work for abating such contamination," Mr. Ramachandran said.

    The report documents 72 environmental and legal violations by industrial units in the SIPCOT complex from October 2004 till now.

    Representatives of farmer and consumer organisations from other industrial hotspots such as Manali Youth Exnora; Bhavani River Protection Committee, Tirupur; West Konur Farmers Association, Mettur; South Indian Fisher Welfare Association; Tamil Nadu Fisherfolk Development Organisation and Fishermen Liberation Movement, also spoke.