Eloor, Kerala

Page - March 21, 2005
Background Barely 17km north of Kochi, Eloor, an island of 11.21 square kilometers, has the dubious distinction of housing the largest industrial belt in Kerala. There are more than 247 factories, including the only DDT-producing facility in India (Hindustan Insecticide Limited) and many others manufacturing a range of things; chemical-petrochemical products, pesticides, rare earth elements, rubber processing chemicals, fertilizers, zinc/chrome compounds and leather products. Most of these units have been here for the last fifty years and use extremely obsolete and polluting technologies. The Periyar is their water source and dump yard, with over 35 illegal pipes spewing their effluents into the river on a daily basis, which has rendered her a water-body of tea brown waste.

The soot-blackened building of Hindustan Insecticide Limited’s endosulfan plant in Eloor.

Present Status

SUPREME COURT MONITORING COMMITTEE ON HAZARDOUS WASTES

Report to Kerala (14.8.2004)

"The Committee was particularly alarmed and distressed at the state of the Periyar river, which is the lifeline of Kerala. The Committee found that the river itself had been converted into a vast, illegal TSDF (Treatment Storage and Disposal Facility) for receiving a large quantity of hazardous wastes. Several industries - many owned by government - that should have long been closed because they are still relying on obsolete technology and obsolete products, were in operation, not only impacting negatively on the environment but losing public money as well in crores. It appeared to the Committee that the state of Kerala was more than a decade behind the process improvements in other states: it looked as if the state had pushed itself into a time-warp from which it was unable to extricate itself."

Various scientific studies (including those conducted by Greenpeace) have confirmed the presence of alarmingly high levels of deadly poisons like DDT, endosulfan, hexa and trivalent chromium, lead, cyanide and BHC.

An epidemiological health study of Eloor residents, conducted by Greenpeace in 2003, examining the health impacts of this environmental pollution on a population of around 10,000 people, found that people in Eloor suffer from all kinds of diseases that can be directly linked to the contamination of their land, air and water by these toxic chemicals. Every organ in the body seems to have been affected. Featuring high among other complaints was the incidence of congenital malformations, deformations and abnormalities.

The fire that broke out in the Endosulfan plant of Hindustan Insecticide Limited (HIL) on July 6, 2004 served as ample demonstration of how ill-prepared the local authorities are to deal with emergencies - evacuation attempts relied largely on local fishermen's boats, with no intervention from the factory management. A fact-finding team by environmental organizations concluded that safety measures inside the plant had been neglected totally, once again proving how close the community is to a Bhopal-like disaster and how ill prepared it is to deal with an industrial 'accident'.

Read more on the Eloor campaign