Karimugal: Famous for charcoal or infamous for carbon dust?

On July 26, 2001, the factory was closed following the directions of the Kerala High Court due to the accidental emissions of carbon dust. 

Published: 29th November 2022 06:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th November 2022 06:31 AM   |  A+A-

File pic of a protest against the decision to give permission for a new carbon black plant at Karimugal in 2009 I Express

Express News Service

KOCHI: Karimugal is a small hamlet in the Puthencruz panchayat. Located 18km east of Kakkanad, some say, the place got its name from the existence of the company Philip Carbon Black Limited (PCBL). One of the largest manufacturers of carbon black in India, PCBL is part of the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group. It started functioning in Kochi during the early 1960s. 

On July 26, 2001, the factory was closed following the directions of the Kerala High Court due to the accidental emissions of carbon dust. Karimugal North councillor Shanifa Babu says there are several stories associated with the name of the place and it is impossible to decipher which story is true. 

“Like many others, I also believed that the place got its name from the carbon company which once operated there. However, my parents told me that the place was once a forestwith huge trees. Some elderly people used to cut those trees, burn them and make charcoal (kari),” she says.

P Prakash, a history enthusiast, says: “I have been writing a book based on different places of cultural and historical importance in Kochi, Karimugal is one of them. “After doing research, I came to the conclusion that it was because of the existence of a carbon company. However, there are also stories that charcoal was made there. It was a place where charcoal used to be made in large pits. People used charcoal from here as fuel in those times.” 

Karimugal may have received the name even before the inception of the Kochi Refinery at Ambalamugal, which is situated at a distance of 5km, says Dr Narendranathan, a former resident of Karimugal. 
He says, “Karimugal was a dense forest and the main source of income for villagers was selling charcoal and hay. Hence, this might be one of the reasons for the place to be named so.”

What’s in a name
Weekly column on the history of place names. Got any suggestions? Write to cityexpresskoc@newindianexpress.com

India Matters


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