The protest of local people at Kathikudam in Thrissur district against Nitta Gelatin India Ltd (NGIL) has only intensified with the lathi charge that happened on July 21. Even after 12 days of the incident, the spirit of the people fails to die down. Five people who were arrested on July 23 in connection with the protest were released on Thursday. Babu Nambadan, C V Ramesh, Aishabi Rameshan, Girija Lohitakshan and Mini Vijayan had received a heroic welcome at Kathikudam upon arrival on Thursday evening. For the past twelve days a slew of dharnas were staged in front of the company, led by various organisations. Kathikudam will see more protests in the coming days under the banner of Kathikudam Samara Samithi and NGIL Action Council. Over 100 organisations have already expressed their solidarity to the protest by the residents for ‘land, air and water’. An expert committee report about the pollution caused by the company is expected in a week.
“The protest has reached its final stage. This is for our basic right to live in the region. NGIL officials say that this is an ultra-local issue, which it is not. The company discharges around 90 tonnes of waste everyday to the Chalakkudy River. The oxygen content was reduced in an area of six kilometers around the company. Around 20,000 people from 5000 houses in five wards (5,6,9,11,12) in Kadukutty Panchayat are the direct victims of the pollution caused by the company. Not only that the drinking water in Kodungalloor, Methala, Eriyad, Mala, Annamanada, Parakkadavu, Kuzhoor, Kunnukara and Puthenvelikkara was polluted due to the discharge of waste from the company. Around four lakh people are affected by the pollution”, said K M Anilkumar, convener, Kathikudam Samara Samithi.
He alleged that the company has flouted all the laws and do not possess a license from Kadukutty Panchayat for the past three years.
On March 23, 2008, an action Council was formed with Jayan Pattath as chairman and Appu Kuttippat as gen convenor against the pollution. On March 26, a dharna was staged in front of the factory and inaugurated by Varhese Thoduparambil, the leader of Karshaka Munnettam, Muriyad. Since then Kathikudam has been witnessing protests in various forms.