On the road between Cuddalore and Chennai, November 29, 2006
Update Day2: 29 November 2006, morning from Puduchatram
From Nity: We set off for our next destination to Cuddalore New Town at 7:30 am half hour past the scheduled time. Some of us were up at 4 am to fulfil the morning duties while others not so keen on attnending the call woke up at 6. We are 6 km away from Perangipettai which was one of the worst affected during the killer tsunami two years ago. Puduchatram, where we spent the night, is extremely rich in groundwater since its aquifers are spring fed. The groundwater here however has been contaminated post tsunami due to the saline intrusion. The groundwater here is so high that toilets cannot be dug very deep for the fear they might hit the water table. Puduchatram is where the SIMA textile park is proposed to be set up as part of the SIPCOT phase III expansion since the area is very rich in groundwater. Puduchatram is about 4 km away from Samiarpettai. The mainstay in Puduchatram is agriculture like cashew and paddy.
The living conditions at here were very basic and we had to make do with one toilet for 25 of us. Some of us found space in the warandah of a large building, huddled up all together since the climate was quite cool.
More about SIMA textile park:
Textile Park by South India Mills Association: Earlier this year, the Madras High Court threatened to close down nearly 737 textile units in Tiruppur because of their pollution. The companies had destroyed the groundwater in the entire town, and sucked dry wells in towns as far as way as Palladam. The River Noyyal now carries toxic effluents, and an entire dam the Orathupalayam Reservoir is now brimming with effluents from Tirupur’s textile units.
Rather than clean up, the Government is encouraging these companies to do two things. First, new and big dyeing industries are being encouraged to shift to Cuddalore. Already 300 acres of land have been allotted to 15 units. These bleaching and dyeing units will destroy both agriculture and fisheries in the area. Fisheries will suffer because the companies plan to discharge the multicoloured toxic effluents into the sea between Samiarpettai and Parangipettai. Agriculture will suffer because the companies will suck out vast amounts of groundwater for their process. Moreover, the companies plan to set up a coal-fired power plant, which will discharge hot water into the sea, and contribute to tremendous air pollution. Sulphur dioxide emissions from power plants will kill agriculture.
Second, the Government has also approved plans to pump textile effluents from Erode and Tiruppur to the sea in Cuddalore. That means the effluents will travel nearly 400 km to avoid polluting the agricultural lands enroute, and fall into the sea in Cuddalore.