The people of Kathikudam in Kerala, India are demanding the immediate closure of Japanese-Indian chemical processing company Nitta Gelatin India Ltd (NGIL).
NGIL has become a threat to their lives and livelihood as it illegally acquires 6,290,200 litres of water from Chalakudy River per day and discharges effluents (liquid wastes) back to the river.
The locals had protested against the company since six years ago, and demanded for a retreatment plant to process the pollutants.
However, the company rejected all requests without providing an alternative resolution. On 21 July, 2013, peaceful protesters were brutally assaulted by the police officials, disregarding their rights and concerns. Demanding the company’s closure is the people’s last resort.
Kathikudam is a small agricultural village situated in Thrissur District of Kerala, India. Today it has become a rising concern because of the gradual but disastrous pollution of water, soil and air in the vicinity by Nitta Gelatin India Ltd. (NGIL).
The factory was set up primarily to extract Ossein from animal bones and to process into gelatin, a raw material required to produce medicines.
Every day, the factory consumes 6,290,200 liters of water and discharges 120,000 liters of hydrochloric acid into Chalakudy River.
The company was initially welcomed by the local population believing that it would provide employment to many. However, people are now protesting against its operation because of the disastrous effect that the effluents brought to the neighborhood of Kathiludam.
But the continued operation of NGIL is against the best interest of the community.
For one, as NGO-led studies, media reports and independent studies have shown, NGIL extracts 20 million liters of water per day, far in excess of the sanctioned limit.
The company also discharges massive amounts of liquid wastes into the Chalakkudy River, and across prime agricultural areas and irrigation canals, public and private lands, as well as paddy fields and villages. This has led to the permanent degradation of more than 40% of drinking water in the wells in and around Kathikudam.
Water from wells in the surrounding areas of NGIL has also become unfit for domestic and agricultural use because in the earlier years of the company, solid wastes produced were deposited within the factory compound by digging 15 feet deep trenches, consequently contaminating soil, underground water sources and other water bodies.
Moreover, the dried and crushed animal bone stored in the storage area develops foul smell in the surroundings which pollutes the air and has allegedly forced people to leave their homes and livelihood.
Reports likewise allege that the pollution — water, soil and air – has caused severe health problems in the local community including cancer, asthma, skin diseases, headache, stomach pain, as well as various respiratory ailments.
There is also social exclusion as relatives and friends avoid visiting families in Kathikudam because of the pollution; marriages are difficult as parents do not wish to send their daughters there.
Thus, the total number of affected people goes beyond Kathikudam to covers millions across different parts of Thrissur and neighboring districts along the Chalakkudy River.
NGIL employs 300 workers in its Kakkanad plant and 160 direct employees at Kathikudam. The factory flaunts the certification of consent that it has been granted, year after year, by the Kerala Pollution Control Board (KPCB), along with other environmental certifications. But Kadukutty Panchayat (supposed to have supreme constitutional rights over the village) in which Kathikudam area is situated, has not given consent to NGIL for the last five years.
Reports note that Kadukutty Panchayat had never been approached by NGIL for permission to draw water from Chalakkudy River or to discharge highly polluted effluents into the river.
The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act of 1974 says no person shall establish an industry which is lkely to discharge sewage or trade effluent into a stream or well or sewer or on land. (Section 25) The Supreme Court of India also said, “No one has a right to carry on a business so as to cause nuisance to the society.” In allowing NGIL to continue operations, the state government and company officials seem to neglect these directions.
The situation has produced a sea of protests and demonstrations in the last six years led by the Nitta Gelatin Action Council (NGILAC). On 21 July, 2013, NGILAC organized a series of protests demanding justice. However, the assembly was allegedly violently attacked by police.
More than 50 protesters were injured, houses were damaged and valuables were stolen. Another conciliation meeting was summoned but the politicians and company officials who attended and briefed again about NGIL’s degradation of the environment did not provide any assurance. As a result, the action council and the community now demand immediate closure of the company, among other demands.
NGIL and its operations in the given circumstances pose impending disaster that should not be allowed to happen. The Government of Kerala should bring on stringent actions to initiate without delay the closure of the company.
Justice. Peace. Solidarity. -Terence A G P Osorio – Coordinator
- Please avoid typing ‘cc ACPP’ at any part of your letter but send copies to us separately for monitoring purpose.
This is to seek your immediate intervention in the serious violation of people’s right to live in a clean & safe environment at Kathikudam village, Thrissur, Kerala. According to reports, Nitta Gelatin India Ltd (NGIL) has become a focal threat to the lives and livelihoods of many through its hazardous waste products that are discharged into Chalakudy River.
Reports show that NGIL extracts 20 million liters of water per day from Chalakudy River and discharge 120,000 liters of hydrochloric acid, that is used by the company, directly into the river, endangering survival of thousands of aquatic lives and vegetations and seriously affecting the neighborhood.
Millions of people in the surrounding area suffer from all kinds of illness such as skin diseases, stomachache, various repiratory ailments and even cancer.
According to Section 25 of the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, “no person shall establish an industry which is likely to discharge sewage or trade effluent into a stream ch. well or sewer”. NGIL has been discharging liquid waste from manufacturing into Chalakudy River since its establishment, which is clearly a violation to the law.
It is also reported that people who legally protested against this continuous violation of their rights were brutally assaulted by police officials on 21 July 2013. In all conciliation meetings, NGIL has also repeatedly rejected all requests by the people, especially the demand for a retreatment plan. This has led them to demand the one solution left: the immediate closure of the company.
Since the continued operation of NGIL is inimical to the lives and livelihood of the people of Kathikudam, and even their civil rights to protest and assemble are violated, we earnestly request you to take urgent steps to terminate the operation of NGIL and avoid further pollution to Chalakudy River and the Kathllcudam village.
Moreover, we support the people’s demand that they be given Fair compensation for all the physical and mental trauma caused by the pollution and the medical cost incurred for those who were subjected to violence during the police assault on 21 July 2013.
- Please write polite letters to the state authorities urging them to address Kathikudam people’s right to live in a clean & safe environment with dignity, in particular:
• Terminate the operation of NGIL in order to avoid further pollution of the Chalakudy River and Kathkudam village.
• Immediate action against errant police officials responsible for police assault on 21 July
• Fair compensation for the physical and mental trauma caused by the pollution as well as the medical costs incurred by those who were subjected to violence during the police assault on 21 July.
- Send letters to:
Sri. Oomen Chandy
Chief Minister of Kerala, North Block,
Kerala 695001 India
Also send copies to:
Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan
Ministry of Environment & Forests
CGO Complex, Lodhi Road
New Delhi – 110 003, India
Fax -+91 11 24362222, 24362016
Sri. P K Kunjalikutty
Minister for industries
Room No: 149, Third floor,
North Block, Govt. Secretariat,
Kerala -695001 India
Fax- +91 471 233059
National Human Rights Commission,
Manav Adhikar Bhawan Block-C,
GPO Complex, INA,
New Delhi – 110023, India
Fax No. -+91 11 24651329
Justice J. B. Koshy
State Human Rights Commission
M. P. Appan Road
Fax- +91 -471-2337148
Diplomatic representatives of India in your country.
(avoid typing at any part of your letter any of the following; Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples; 1/F, 52 Princess letterMargaret Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2714 5123; Fax: (852) 2712 0152; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.acpp.org)