Greenpeace launches it’s “Save our Lakes” Campaign at Patancheru

Feature story - June 18, 2004
HYDERABAD, India — On the 17th of June, 2004 Greenpeace launched it’s “Save our Lakes” campaign at Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh by introducing community science to the villagers of Kazipally and Gandigudam. VJ Jose, the Greenpeace Riverkeeper from Eloor, Kerala, sampled and analyzed the lakes at Kazipally and Gandigudam along with community representatives. Through these activities Greenpeace catalyzed a process, which empowers the local community to demystify the toxic assault on their lives and acquire skills to undertake scientific investigations to discover the depth and nature of toxic impacts on their health and environments.

M.J. Jose, our River Keeper, samples water from the Patancheru lake for toxins

Thousands of acres of agricultural land in villages in and around Patancheru have been rendered fallow due to the unchecked abuse on the 'cheravus' by industries located in the vicinity. Patancheru, famous for it's lakes that were thriving with fish and other aquatic species, irrigating vast tracts of land and served as a drinking water source have been reduced to dead water bodies. Though these industrial estates were set up to develop the surrounding regions and create jobs the opposite has happened. There is a long history of legal battle in Patancheru. The Supreme Court over a 3-year period (May 1998 - Feb 2001) passed out many orders, following which the case was transferred to the High Court for further proceedings. The cases in the Supreme Court and High Court also highlighted the inadequacy of environmentally sound disposal facilities. Environmental destruction has had a direct impact on human health. Studies conducted here report that people residing in Patancheru are exposed to high levels of toxic poisons. (For further information on Patancheru, please click on the link below.)

"Polluting Industries are able to operate in relative freedom because their victims are usually unaware of the risks that accompany industrial 'growth'. Toxic disasters continue to assault people all over the country - some in slow motion. Patancheru is yet another Bhopal ticking away. With the introduction of community science people will be able to show cause polluting industries that have been destroying their health and environment. This is the first step to clean production" said Bidhan Chandra Singh, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

VJ Jose, Greenpeace Riverkeeper has been responsible for patrolling and monitoring the river Periyar in Kerala for over 2 years now. Representing afflicted communities, the Riverkeeper has been notifying the State Government and the statutory bodies on the ongoing environmental catastrophe.

" Over the last 2 years I have been monitoring the water quality of the Periyar. Along with the community we have succeeded in getting the State Government of Kerala to institute a Periyar Action Plan Committee, which would look at current industrial practices and set stage a shift to clean production. Likewise at Patancheru, we are confident that the communities use of science would provide impetus to every citizen's Right to Know and their will to Act" said Mr. VJ Jose.

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Pochiah, a representative of the community adds "Very often corporations use science to cloak their polluting criminal behaviour. The activities over the last few days gave us an added understanding of our fundamental right to know what is affecting our health and environment. Realizing that we have a Right to Know leads to the next crucial step of us acting collectively and gaining greater control over our circumstances."

The planning and operation of Industrial Estates do not take into consideration, the effect on the environment. Typically in India, Industrial Estates have been responsible for transforming areas into toxic hotspots. Patancheru is a classic illustration of this phenomenon. The need of the hour is for a paradigm shift in the commissioning, planning and operation of industries.

For further information contact

Bidhan Chandra Singh : Toxics Campaigner +919845535405

Sanjiv Gopal : Campaign/Media Liaison - +919845535416