Greenpeace activists arrested for demanding immediate action to stop poisoning of Periyar

Feature story - October 22, 2003
TIRUVANANTHAPURAM, India — Police arrested (and subsequently released) six Greenpeace activisits participating in a peaceful protest outside the residence of the Minister of State (Kerala) for Health, Mr. P Sankaran, in Thiruvananthapuram today. The activists had arrived at his residence with replicas of dead fish and buffalo carcasses and a banner that said “Save the Periyar”. Greenpeace activists were demanding that the Minister take immediate action to halt the ongoing tragedy at Eloor.

Greenpeace activists demand immediate action to save the Periyar, in a peaceful protest outside minister's residence

According to the health assessment study conducted by Greenpeace and medical experts released in September 2003, there is increased rate of cancer, bronchitis, asthma, congenital and chromosomal aberrations, stomach ulcers and poisoning amongst the residents of Eloor Industrial Estate caused by relentless release of toxic effluents into the Periyar river by the chemical industry.

Sanjiv Gopal, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace India said, "We want the Health Minister to act now in the interest of public health and Periyar river. The Government has to immediately put in place systems for medical rehabilitation of the affected people of Eloor and push the chemical industry to ensure zero discharge of toxic effluents on the river while ensuring 'clean production' to reverse the environmental and human health catastrophe".

For over four years now, Greenpeace India has been campaigning with local groups in Kerala, investigating and exposing instances of toxic pollution caused by industries in Eloor. As far back as December 1999, Greenpeace science unit had released a scientific analysis on the pollution caused by the Hindustan Insecticide Ltd. at Eloor. Greenpeace also appointed a river-keeper, Mr. V J Jose, last year to patrol and monitor the pollution levels on the river Periyar. His findings establish high levels of toxic contamination on the river.