Patancheru industrial area, AP, India

In Medak district, Patancheru lies off the Hyderabad-Pune highway. Untreated industrial effluents let out into water courses poison the groundwater, affecting agricultural lands and also the drinking waters of about 15 hamlets.


In 1986, Citizens against Pollution (CAP) launched the Patancheru Anti Pollution Committee. The following year, nearly 2,000 people marched 40km from Patancheru to the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly and presented a list of demands to then Chief Minster N. T. Rama Rao. Another high point of this conflict was in July 27, 2005 when Greenpeace activists delivered bucket-loads of toxic sludge from the industrial estates in Medak district to the office of the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) in Hyderabad.

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Basic Data
NamePatancheru industrial area, AP, India
ProvinceAndhra Pradesh
SitePatancheru Mandal in Medak District
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Chemical industries
Specific CommoditiesIndustrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsHyderabad, which is known as the bulk drug capital of India, accounts for nearly a fifth of India's pharmaceutical exports, netting

revenues of US$15 billion in 2014. The Patancheru-Bollaram manufacturing hub on the outskirts of Hyderabad has long been one of the most polluted industrial areas in India. The bulk drug manufacturing industry is one of the main polluters in the cluster. (Nordea report, 2016).

Going back to 1990, following the filing of a PIL (public interest litigation) by lawyer M C Mehta on behalf of Delhi's Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action, the Supreme Court directed the district judge of Medak to inspect the location and submit a report. This report, submitted in November 1995, concluded that over 100 industries were responsible for causing groundwater pollution in the region. In an interim order on May 10, 1996, the Supreme Court

• asked the AP government to deposit Rs 1.5 crore (1 crore = 10 million) with the High Court (APHC) towards final compensation; the compensation amount was meant to cushion the agricultural loss, calculated at Rs 1,000 per acre (0.405 ha) per year;

• asked the guilty industries (instead of closing them down) to reimburse the AP government the entire amount deposited with the APHC;

• ordered upgradation of the existing effluent treatment plant (ETP), and asked the APPCB to establish a common ETP (CETP) (common effluent treatment plant (CETP) called Patancheru Effluent Tech Limited (PETL); and ordered the government to ensure that affected villages received treated municipality water. (Source: Down to Eath).

Twenty years later the situation has improved but was not solved. Hence, in 2013, India's Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF)s imposed a moratorium on setting up new industries or expanding existing ones in eight industrial clusters in the country after a Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) survey showed high pollution levels in these areas. The clusters are: Vapi (Gujarat), Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), Singrauli (Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh), Panipat (Haryana), Indore, (Madhya Pradesh), Ludhiana (Punjab), Jharsuguda (Odisha) and Patancheru-Ballaram (Andhra Pradesh). ( Down to Earth, 15 October 2013). However, the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (which is the basis for such decisions) is (allegedly) recalculated, if suitable.

More recent focus is also put on the Patancheru-Bollaram cluster's contribution to antibiotic resistance in bacteria (Nordea, 2016). "Resistant bacteria are breeding here and will affect the whole world, said Kishan Rao, a doctor and activist who has been working in Patancheru, a Medak industrial zone where many drug manufacturers have bases, for more than two decades." (Reuters, 2016).
Project Area (in hectares)695
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population50,000
Start Date1986
Company Names or State EnterprisesDr. Reddy's, Aurobindo, Hetero, Mylan (and its subsidiary Matrix), Ranbaxy Laboratories and SMS Pharmaceuticals
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Andhra Pradesh, Judicial Academy of Andhra Pradesh, BDO, Revenue Office, District Collector Office, District Medical Office, Andhra Pradesh pollution control board, Government of India, India Supreme Court, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersGreenpeace India.

Patancheru Anti Pollution Committee (PAPC).

Citizens Against Pollution (CAP).

Citizens Forum for Better Patancheru Constituency.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Students, lawyers
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Hunger strikes and self immolation
The nature of the movement was always based on Gandhian principles, such as Dharna (a non-violent sit-in protest in front of the factories with hunger strike) and Street rallies, like 40km marches to the state Parliament.
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Other Environmental impacts, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Potential: Genetic contamination
OtherObnoxious smell, frequent leakages of toxic gases. Impact on crop yield and food cycle. Production of crops in some areas has reduced to 80%. Milk yield decrease and is contaminated. River's fauna is no more.
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
OtherBreathing disturbances, water pollution. Also, increased antibiotic resistance as a more general consequence.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
Under negotiation
The Supreme Court order gave right to compensation to the affected people, but not been implemented yet. The goverment of India has decided a couple of times to stop growth of this polluting chemical-pharmaceutical cluster, but then it has retreated.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Due to the lack (especially at the beginning, during the crucial part of the fight) of support of big national and international organizations and political parties, the movement achieved some results by their own efforts. Unfortunately, the chemical and pharmaceutical lobby and the high level of corruption made that basically the situation did not change much. The Patancheru environmental protection movement went on, at the Supreme Court level. The Court gave interim orders and reliefs as and when its attention is drawn. Though there are some landmark orders given by the Indian Supreme Court, implementation has not been effective. Slow improvements but still alarming situation.
Sources and Materials

Affidavit filed by the Revenue Divisional Officer, Sangareddy before the A.P. High Court, Hyderabad, December 5. 1987.

Judgment of the Division Bench Comprising Justice Jeevan Reddy and Justice Sivaraman Nair, A.P. High Court, Hyderabad, 26th April, 1990.

Affidavit filed by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board before the A.P. High Court, Hyderabad, Feb 20. 1990.


People's participation in Environmental Protection, Geethanjoy Sahu
[click to view]

Hydrogeochemical characterization of contaminated groundwater in Patancheru industrial area, southern India.

Reddy AG1, Saibaba B, Sudarshan G.
[click to view]

State of Community Health at Medak District. Publication - October 26, 2004 (with link to 70 page survey).
[click to view]

Tushar Dhara and Anil Cherukupalli, The cost of cheap medicines. Antibiotic pollution in Patancheru.
[click to view]


[click to view]


Report of Medak District Medical Office on Health Survey, 2001.

A report Published in Deccan Chronicle dated 29-1-95, with a title “Patancheru Villages Turned into a Toxic Hell Hole”

Report of APPCB on Industrial Pollution in Patancheru, 1998.

Report of CPCB on Industrial Pollution in Patancheru, 1998.

State of Community Health at MEDAK DISTRICT, Greenpeace, 2004

Patancheru-Bollaram Industrial Cluster
[click to view]

The cost of cheap drugs? Toxic Indian lake is 'superbug hotspot', Sept. 2016, by Zeba Siddiqui
[click to view]

Greenpeace delivers Toxic Reality of Patancheru to AP Pollution Board.

Press release - July 27, 2005
[click to view]

The Hindu's report on Greenpeace epidemiological study of 2004
[click to view]

Alarming levels of pollution in Patancheru tanks, by J.B.S. Umanadh, The Hindu 15 Nov. 2004
[click to view]

Media Links

Patancheru: water woes , in Down to Earth
[click to view]

Polluters under MoEF scanner, Sugandh Juneja, Down to Earth, 15 October 2013.
[click to view]

Other Documents

[click to view]

Other CommentsNordea report, 2016: "... people living in the vicinity of dirty pharmaceutical manufacturing sites, who are often poor and reliant on subsistence farming, are those whose health is at most immediate risk from the toxic effluents and API-laden waste being deposited in their rivers, lakes, groundwater and fields... (moreover) because of the way in which antibiotic manufacturing discharges trigger resistance in bacteria present in the environment, spreading to human pathogens which then travel the world, antibiotic pollution puts everyone at risk, wherever they live. " (API means the active ingredients in a pharmaceutical drug).
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ContributorLeandro Vichi and Geetanjoy Sahu, reachable at
Last update26/12/2016