Sterlite - மெய்ப்பொருள் காண்பது அறிவு

Blog post by Arjun Vijay

Whatever the problems we cover, we intend to bring out the true knowledge about the situation than just tweaking emotions of people. Usually, the media masses are trying to tweak the emotions of the people about the problems like Sterlite to get more views and TRPs and completely neglect to report the actuality of the situation. It is an unfortunate thing happening in our country and we are strongly against it.

We decided to research about Sterlite to know what the real problem is. We collected funds from people for this project and went onsite to collect and test air and water samples. This video is the result of this decision.

An obvious question will come to any skeptic about the Sterlite problem is, “Did the problem got solved after the Sterlite Ban?” Unfortunately, the answer is, not a thing has changed. We went onsite and our team was collecting samples from different places and talking to people. From the day one, someone from the crowd would just inform someone on phone about our car plate number, number of people involved, the equipment we use and other details. This happened the whole week in Thoothukudi. We collected groundwater samples from Kumra Ettidiyapuram, T.V Puram, Thoothukodi City. It was distinctly clear that the water was not consumable.

We then went to a place near Sterlite factory. There was a stagnant water flowing and we took samples from there. We asked opinions to people who were protesting, they said that there is another dump yard of chemicals near Sterlite which is covered with 10 feet sand-wall and iron-made fence that is guarded with 10 to 15 people. We requested them to show us the place but due to some fear among them, no one was ready to do it. A man finally accompanied us to show us the place. It was rained recently at that place and the chemicals were outside those fences. We crossed the wall and collected samples. The chemical dump yard was almost and was completely unprotected. The village man who accompanied us helped us to collect the samples and he accidentally spilled some samples on his hand. His hand got burned. We immediately understood that it has high acidic content. A group of men spotted us and came running towards us, we decided to leave the place immediately. We kept those samples in the hotel we stayed, the samples leaked from the bottle and it damaged the cement floor. It is so toxic that it had damaged a cement floor. This is the kind of discharge that is dumped on the plain soil which is obviously mixing with the groundwater on a daily basis.

We decided to go around other places to know other problems faced. When we started from the Sterlite, we saw 2 other factories emitting smoke. It was SPIC and TAC industries. We saw a stagnant water near the factories, we got down to take the sample. We were just out of the car for just 20 seconds, we started suffocating and couldn’t breathe because of the smoke. All of us got the headache all day. We saw a village nearby. We went there and asked about the factories. They said the emissions were less that day, usually, it was stronger and acute. The liquid emissions of SPIC and TAC were discharged in the sea. We then went to another nearby place of fishermen to inquire about the discharge. They said in the April month of 2018, a large number of fish was dead in the seashore because of the discharge. They said the beach seine fishing became a history because of the direct result of the discharge. With the help of some fishermen, we got samples from the sea and the discharging place of both the factories.

To test the air quality of Thoothukudi, we asked many laboratories in Tamil Nadu, but everyone refused it. Then we brought a team from Bangalore to test the air quality of many places in Thoothukudi which includes the Sterlite area. Test happened on 4 places at Thoothukudi and it took 8 hours each to take the samples. Once this was finished, we went back to Chennai.

We gave the samples to a Laboratory and took more than 20 days to give the results. The 4 parameter of chemicals in water test results of T.V.Puram was 2 to 11 times higher than the safety zone. In Kumra Ettidapuram, it was 2 to 21 times higher than the safe zone. The samples in Thoothukudi city had no problems.

The samples taken near the SPIC and TAC, the ammonia levels was 242 times more than the safe zone. The samples taken from their pipeline in the sea, the ammonia levels were 86 times more than the safe zone.

The samples taken from the stagnant water and dump yard near the Sterlite had 3 times more chlorine and 15 times more sulfate than the safe zone. The total dissolved solids of the sample were 90 times more than the safe zone and the phosphate was 37 times more than the safe zone. This makes the soil extremely toxic and will kill the future growth on any kind of plantation. The levels of lead content were 30 times more than the safe zone, it can causes abortion or irregularly sized children. The fluoride levels were 94 times more than the safe zone. If fluoride is mixing in the groundwater, it would cause bone related issues. Boron was 10 times more than the safe zone which can cause various types of cancer. The levels of Sulphate was 100 times more than the safe zone, this can cause severe kidney related problems.

This dump yard is the main reason for all the groundwater pollution in the area. The bizarre levels of toxics are still released even at the time of Sterlite protest. No major media talks about the dump yard or anything related to this because the area near the Sterlite factory, the dump yard and the stagnant water near Sterlite is owned by none other than Mr. Vaikundarajan, the owner of V.V. Titanium Pigments Private Limited (V.V. Minerals). We couldn’t get the Air Quality results of Sterlite or V.V. Minerals because it was shut down at that time and nothing toxic was detected. If you just use google map, you can detect this dump yard but it was not covered by any major or minor medias.

We heard about the Sterlite factory opening for public once in a week, we went there and observed their solid and liquid waste management. We came to know that other factories discharge is alarmingly higher than the Sterlite factory. The irony here is that the “Environmentalists” who is working for Thoothukudi people for 23 years long to ban Sterlite factory, Ms. Fatima Babu, and Mr. Nithyananth Jayaraman, doesn’t know the dump yard of VV Minerals that can be detected even in a Google map. And they expect people to believe this propaganda of being an “Environmentalist.” Nithyananth Jayaraman was in the N.E.E.R.I. Committee that did the detailed assessment on groundwater and came to the conclusion that the Kill Burn Chemicals was the reason behind all the pollution of groundwater. Now the Kill Burn Chemicals changed to “V.V. Minerals” and continued to do same levels of groundwater pollution, but Mr. Nithyananth Jayaraman or Fatima Babu doesn’t even mention about V.V. Minerals. Why is only one factory banned? What about other factories? What about V.V Minerals, SPIC, and TAC who are the major polluters? It seems their interest is not for the people or the environment, it is just to ban Sterlite factory.

We went to Thoothukudi from Chennai with the sole purpose of creating evidence against Sterlite factory. But when we reached there and spent 1 week time, we understood the ground reality is completely different and the bigger problem is actually hidden in plain sight to everyone in Tamil Nadu. What people should know, should not know, who to go against, or who not go against seem to be decided by some handful of people on top. Our genuine emotions seems to be controlled in the direction they wanted. The people who are in the AC rooms seems to decide how everything should be and should not be. People got injured and died in this protest and people on top seems to not care. It is time we don’t fall for these goons and inhumane people and create a better Tamil Nadu by researching deep about every news we come across before going against anything.

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