Day 3: In Pillukhedi, water yellow as donkey's urine and an open-air screening of Bhopal Express

Wednesday 22nd February
TODAY’S THEME: HEALTH SURVEILLANCE, DOWNLOAD FACTSHEET HERE
The walk from Shyampur was not too tiring and we got to Pillukhedi around noon and cooked lunch.
This is a big village on the bank of the beautiful river Parvati.
Because of the water, an industrial estate was set up here and several factories have been built close to the village.
Everywhere, we found evidence of damage caused to the local environment and people by a distillery, a gelatin factory and most recently a Coca Cola factory.
Hand pumps lie unused or dismantled because the groundwater in the village is yellow and foul tasting (yellow as donkey’s urine, say the villagers) and the spoiled water is not just in this village but in at least three others – Samaas, Geelakhedi and Bilehari.
We spoke to a local doctor who said there was too much fluoride in the water (possibly linked to over-extraction of ground water by Coca Cola and others). We will soon learn more, we have decided to spend another day in the village as Master Nand Lal from Mehendiganj near Varanasi, leader of the people’s organisation against the Coca Cola factory there, will be arriving tomorrow.
When he is here, we will screen a film on Coca Cola and have master Nand Laal speak at a public meeting in the village.
Several people we met told us the Coca Cola company has paid off the pollution control board officials and has a history of buying off people when ever there’s opposition.
In the evening we called all the villagers and screened Bhopal Express in the open air before an audience of more than 200 people. The projector worked really well.
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Nethra Raghuraman and Kay Kay in Bhopal Express. Click here to watch it online right now and imagine yourself with the marchers and villagers under the stars in Pillukhedi.
We will stay here tonight also and will leave day after tomorrow for Kurawar.
Rachna adds: Because of the extra day in Pillukhedi for the solidarity action we are running one day behind schedule. I am sure we will make it up shortly. We will be sending a update later this evening. My phone has not been working and I’ve not been able to get an internet connection in most of these places.
Everyone is in great spirits.
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