Protest against plywood units, India


Plywood making factories in and around Perumbavoor area of Kochi, Kerala are proliferating in recent years. There are about 800 plywood units in this area. Many of these factories are near water sources and are continuously discharging chemicals and waste into these water bodies. According to the local residents, these factories have been constructed flouting norms. According to environmentalist S Seetharaman, the use of urea and formaldehyde as adhesive for sticking veneers was polluting the air [1]. The people who oppose the setting up of new factories in residential localities have joined together and formed a forum, ‘Janakeeya Samara Smithy’ and The Environment Protection Committee. The organizations coordinated the agitation, had declared it will continue the stir overnight and occupy the premises if the panchayat failed to take any action against the polluting unit. A human chain was organised recently by the samithi (committee) to highlight the plight of villagers whose very existence is under threat from the polluted environment created by the new ventures. They have taken up the issue with the government and plan to strengthen the agitation. [2, 3, 4]. Leaders of saw mill owners association, however, denied allegations. They said that earlier, these factories were a cause of pollution in the area. But now all of them abide by the rules [1].

See more...
Basic Data
NameProtest against plywood units, India
SitePerumbavoor, Kochi
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local 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 CommoditiesCellulose

Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe environmental pollution is caused by over 800 plywood units in the area
Project Area (in hectares)405
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population60000
Start Date21/05/2012
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Kerala, Kerala Pollution Control Board
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAction Council for Environmental Protection., The Environment Protection Committee.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Industrial workers
Informal workers
Local ejos
Action Council for Environmental Protection ‘Janakeeya Samara Samithi’
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Official complaint letters and petitions
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Waste overflow
Potential: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Under negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of AlternativesThe protest march was organised by the Action Council for Environmental Protection, demanded for cancellation of licences of the plywood manufacturing units in the worst polluted areas. There was also demand to ban the night-time functioning of the companies.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Many of the plywood units pay scant regard to the law of the land as they have support from several members of the local bodies. Those who oppose the units are being threatened.

Illegal migrants are being employed at several units and criminal activities including fake currency racket are thriving in the area, according to the activists.

Though establishment of industrial units within 150 feet distance from residence is prohibited, the facts are misrepresented at the licensing stage.

The units do not ensure clean livelihood in the residential compounds where the migrant labour is accommodated.

The factories set up in the neighborhoods emit smoke that suffocates them while the untreated effluents are let out into rivulets, polluting the drinking water sources. Chemicals used in the manufacturing process of plywood are handled in a careless manner.

The plywood waste is burnt and the ash is thrown into the open. The untreated waste is carried by rains to wells and water bodies [4].
Sources and Materials

Air (Prevention and control of Pollution) Act 1981.pdf
[click to view]

Act, 1974 Relevant provisions.pdf
[click to view]




Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974


[1] Residents up in arms against plywood units
[click to view]

[2] Residents protest against plywood units
[click to view]

[3] March against plywood units at Perumbavoor
[click to view]

[4] People force closure of polluting plywood unit
[click to view]

[4] Stir against polluting plywood units
[click to view]

People force closure of polluting plywood unit
[click to view]

Fresh stir planned against polluting plywood units
[click to view]

Greens take out rally against plywood units
[click to view]

Fast-unto-death agitation against plywood units enters 17th day
[click to view]

Media Links

Unauthorized Plywood Factories in Kochi
[click to view]

Pollution from a Plywood company in Perumbavoor, Kerala
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorSwapan Kumar Patra
Last update08/04/2014