Aurobindo Pharma responds to Greenpeace alert with action

Aurobindo Pharma takes action within one week of Greenpeace alert; long road ahead, warns Greenpeace.

Feature story - August 5, 2004
HYDERABAD, India — In a swift follow up on the promise they made to Greenpeace activists a week ago, Aurobindo Pharma in Patancheru has abided by a Supreme Court directive and put up a notice board with information on their hazardous material usage outside their factory gates - a victory for the Community's Right to Know, and our campaign to 'Save the Lakes' at Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh.

Greenpeace activists plant signposts outside chemical industries, urging them to disclose all hazardous materials used in their process.

Greenpeace welcomes the first step taken by Aurobindo Pharma, in Pashamailaram to implement the Supreme Court Order dated October 14th 2003, regarding "Publication of Toxic Inventory & Community Participation", and reminds the other hazardous industries in Medak District that they need to follow up the way Aurobindo Pharma has.

The Supreme Court in its Writ petition No. 657 of 1995 and Order dated 14th October, 2003 clearly directs all hazardous industries to share the relevant information on Hazardous materials by displaying it on notice boards outside the main gate of the factory and through newspaper and by communicating the information through Radio, Television and the Internet. The deadline for it was May 31st 2004.

The seriousness of the Supreme Court Order reflects in the order when it says, "If such data is not made available, the unit should be asked to show cause or even be asked to close down."

Greenpeace's first Non-violent Direct Action in Patancheru on 23rd June 2004, was part of their "Save our Lakes" Campaign, and sought to secure the Community's Right to Know. As a first step towards implementing this, Greenpeace activists had erected a notice board outside Aurobindo Pharma's premises, demanding that the company shares its information with the community. Senior officials from Aurobindo Pharma had responded by assuring Greenpeace and the local community that they would erect a notice board with all the relevant information on it within a week of the action on 23rd June. Read more in our related story "Greenpeace action forces industry to acknowledge Right to Information."

"This response by Aurobindo Pharma, a Red Category Industry in PCB's list and one of the largest companies operating here, showing that they are capable of adhering to the promise made in response to a Greenpeace demand has raised hope in Patancheru industrial area to combat pollution. It has also showed the way to the other hazardous industries to accept the importance of sharing knowledge with the community about what chemicals are being used and released into the environment. This information is a basic tool given by the government and the industries to the citizens, to protect themselves and their environment world over," says Bidhan Chandra Singh, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

There are companies in Bollaram, Khazipally and Pashamailram industrial estate blatantly violating the Supreme Court order by not sharing critical information about the hazardous materials they use and release to the environment. The intention of the order is to share knowledge with the community. So the importance of using the local language or putting the notice board outside the main gate of the factory cannot be underestimated.

The fact that Aurobindo, one of the largest companies in the area responded within a week also indicates the ease with which they can share the information, if they are willing to or pressurized by the community.

Greenpeace in its future step, will be sending letters to industries to remind them of their obligations towards the Community's Right to Know, and encourage them to implement in letter and spirit their commitment and accountability towards the people as stated in different laws.

For further information please contact:

Bidhan Chandra Singh, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace India: +919845535405