Environment > Empowering the community with practical tools for better self-advocacy and natural resource protection for more control over pollution
Empowering the community with practical tools for better self-advocacy and natural resource protection for more control over pollution
State: Tamil Nadu
NGO: The Other Media (Initiative: Community Environmental Monitoring)
Community Environmental Monitoring (CEM) is an initiative by Other Media to ensure corporate accountability, community empowerment and social justice in matters of environmental pollution and resulting problems in health and creation of toxic waste. CEM focuses on political empowerment of the marginalized communities and their right to make informed decisions about development as a key to success in the struggle against environmental casteism and discrimination.
- In September 2004, CEM found 22 toxic gases in the air surrounding the SIPCOT industrial complex. At least 14 out of 22 chemicals violated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) safety levels. A cancer-causing compound 1,2-dichloroethane, found in an air sample taken exceeded safety levels by a factor of 22,973. The report formed the basis for a Supreme Court order calling for the setting up of national standards for toxic gases in ambient air.
- Current air and water pollution levels have improved considerably since the CEM project was initiated. Clean water is now being piped in to the villages neighbouring SIPCOT due to efforts by CEM team.
- Following the revelation of workplace safety violations and grossly unsafe practices, the Hindustan Unilever Mercury Thermometer factory was shut down in 2001. CEM was involved in assisting ex-workers for compensation and remediation of the mercury contaminated site in Kodaikanal.
- In March 2016, the ex-workers have entered into an out-of-court settlement with HUL ending their two-decade-old agitation for medico, socio economic rehabilitation. Efforts into remediation of the site and surrounding environment are under negotiation with HUL and the PCB.
- In Cheyyur (TN), CEM mobilized public opinion against an ultra mega coal-based thermal power plants and legally challenged the environmental clearance, which was granted based on incorrect and misleading information.
- Training communities in Chattisgarh to monitor the environment around coal/limestone mines and cement plants. CEM recently assisted community groups in building arguments against the Parsa Coal Block Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), 70% of which is located in virgin forests.
- Baddi Barotiwala Nalagarh (BBN) industrial complex in Himachal Pradesh, is a hub for chemical and pharma units. CEM has worked with the State Pollution Control Board and found various breaches and irregularities that are being addressed.