Where are the commons?

From land to creative spaces, our commons are being fenced by encroachers and even the state

The tension between ownership to tangible and intangible property and the enjoyment of the commons by all is not a new phenomenon. Fences could not have been there when land came into existence. Fences came later, encumbrances came later and so did title deeds and patta. Kuthambai, one of the ancient learned Siddhars, sang songs seemingly simple but layered with philosophical and metaphysical subtexts. One goes like this: “Vetta veli thannil meyyenrirupporkku pattayam edukkadi? (What would the one who has realised Infinite Space do with certificates of ownership?)” He was of course singing about a different space, not about tangible property like land.

Even after man felt that there was need for fences and certificates of ownership, he still recognised that some lands must be kept in common for use by all or for the sake of all. In medieval England they were called commons, a resource to be enjoyed by all. These lands and the non-arable lands were classified in Tamil as “poramboke”. The protest song “Porambokku enakku illai porambokku unakku illai porambokku oorukku porambokku bhoomikku” is about this commons and how the commons are diminishing. The words “mandai veli” and “maattuthaavani” are poignant echoes to a time when cattle had access to grazing grounds. Not now, those areas are covered by concrete structures. If we could divine the thoughts of our cattle, we would know they are wondering why their lives are protected with such violence and vehemence when all they want is grass.

 

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If TANGEDCO’s EIA is true, Ennore Air is Cleanest in City

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29 May, 2017. Chennai: City-based activists said they strongly suspect that the EIA prepared for TANGEDCO’s 660MW coal power expansion project in Ennore uses falsified and potentially fraudulent air quality data to justify the location of the polluting project in a heavily polluted area. Not one of the 216 samples taken by TANGEDCO’s consultant, Ramky Enviro Engineers, registers PM2.5 levels that deviate from a narrow range of 19.3 to 36.8 µg/m3; none exceeds the national annual ambient air quality standard of 40 µg/m3. If the EIA data is to be believed, air in the Ennore Manali industrial cluster is cleaner than in any other part of the city, including IIT, Poes Garden and Boat Club.

PM2.5 refers to highly toxic respirable dust measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter. High PM2.5 levels are indicative of dangerous air pollution. Every 10 µg/m3 increase in PM 2.5, increases death rates by 3 to 26%, chances of childhood asthma by 16%, chances of lung cancer by 36% and of heart attack by 44%. In 2012, WHO declared that air pollution claimed 7 million lives – or one in eight global deaths. Continue reading

Breathing is Injurious to Health

Ennore is a densely populated, working class area of North Chennai – Chennai’s sacrificial lamb. This region is targeted with a disproportionate concentration of polluting industries – a garbage dump, coal-fired thermal power plants, chemical and petrochemical industries, ports, coal yards and fly-ash dykes. Ennore is both a site of vicious environmental discrimination, and the epicentre of a community struggle to end the discrimination, revive the Creek and restore fisher livelihoods.

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#UnmaskMyCity #ToxicTales #SaveEnnoreCreek

Dr. S. Killivalavan has been practicing in Kattukuppam since 1984. His is one of the few private medical clinics in the area and is always abuzz with patients. Fertiliser companies, coal-fired thermal power plants, a phosporic acid plant and heavy vehicle traffic to and from the two ports further north make this area an air pollution hotspot.

The doctor reports a stark increase in respiratory diseases. “Seventy percent of the cases I see are respiratory diseases. One could claim that the humidity in the area, because it’s so close to the sea, is causing respiratory disease and fungal infection – which also I see a lot – but I can certainly say that the high rate of respiratory disease is because of the air pollution,” he says. “Lots of people have left the area unable to manage medical expenses. How can one explain this?”

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Tamil_Final

#UnmaskMyCity #ToxicTales #SaveEnnoreCreek

டாக்டர் எஸ். கிள்ளிவளவன் 1984 ம் ஆண்டிலிருந்து காட்டுக்குப்பம் பகுதியில் பயிற்சி செய்து வருகிறார். இவ்வூரில் தனியார் மருத்துவ மருந்தகங்கள் ஒரு சிலவே உள்ளன. டாக்டர் கிள்ளிவளவனவின் கிளினிக் அவைகளில் ஒன்றாகும். எப்பொழுதும் நோயாளிகளின் கூட்டம் அலைமோதும். இங்குள்ள உர நிறுவனங்கள், நிலக்கரி எரிக்கும் அனல் மின் நிலையங்கள், ஒரு ஃபாஸ்ஃபோரிக் அமில ஆலை மற்றும் கனரக வாகனங்களின் புகை இப்பகுதியை காற்று மாசுபாட்டை பொறுத்தவரை ஒரு ஹாட்ஸ்பாட்டாக (மாசு அளவுகள் மிக அதிகமாக உள்ள இடம்) மாற்றியுள்ளன.

இங்கு சுவாசம் சம்பந்தப்பட்ட நோய்கள் அதிகரித்துள்ளன என டாக்டர் கிள்ளிவளவன் தெரிவிக்கிறார். “என்னைப் பார்க்க வரும் நோயாளிகளில் 70% பேர் சுவாசம் சம்பந்தப்பட்ட நோய்களால் பாதிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளனர். இப்பகுதி கடலுக்கு சமீபத்தில் உள்ளதால், இங்குள்ள மிகுதியான ஈரப்பதமும் சுவாச நோய்கள் மற்றும் பூஞ்சை தொற்று நோய்க்கும் – இப்பகுதியில் இதுவும் அதிகமாக பார்க்கிறேன்- ஒரு காரணமாக இருக்கலாம். ஆனால் இங்குள்ள காற்றின் மாசு தான் சுவாசம் சம்பந்தப்பட்ட நோய்களின் அதிகரிப்பிற்கு காரணம் என்று என்னால் கண்டிப்பாக சொல்ல முடியும்”, என்று டாக்டர் சொல்கிறார். “மருத்துவ செலவுகள் பெருகிய காரணத்தினால் நிறைய மக்கள் இப்பகுதியை விட்டே சென்று விட்டார்கள். இதை எவ்வாறு விளக்க முடியும்?”.

எண்ணூர், வட சென்னையில் உழைக்கும் வர்க்கத்தினர் அதிகமாக வாழும், மக்கள் தொகை அடர்த்தி அதிகமுள்ள ஒரு பகுதி – சென்னையின் பலியாடு. நகரத்தின் வேறு பகுதிகளை ஒப்பிட்டு பார்த்தால், இப்பகுதியில் மட்டும் மாசு விளைவிக்கும் பல தொழிற்சாலைகள் அளவுக்கு அதிகமாகவே உள்ளன – ஓரு குப்பை கிடங்கு, அனல் மின் நிலையங்கள், இரசாயன மற்றும் பெட்ரோ கெமிக்கல் தொழிற்சாலைகள், துறைமுகங்கள், நிலக்கரி கிடங்குகள் மற்றும் நிலக்கரி சாம்பல் செயற்கரைகள். சுற்றுச்சூழலை பொறுத்தவரை உள்ள இந்த பாரபட்சத்தை எண்ணூரில் நேரடியாக காணலாம். ஆனால் இந்த ஊர், இந்த பாகுபாட்டின் ஒரு கோடூரமான எடுத்துக்காட்டாக மட்டும் விளங்காமல், இந்த பாரபட்சத்தை முடிவு கட்டவும், க்ரீக்கை புதுப்பிக்கவும், மீனவ வாழ்வாதாரத்தை மீட்பதற்கும் நடக்கும் ஒரு சமூகத்தின் போராட்டத்திற்கு ஒரு மையப்புள்ளியாகவும் விளங்குகிறது.

இங்கே எங்கள் மனுவில் கையெழுத்திடுங்கள் : http://unmaskmycity.org/project/chennai/ 

In pictures: How a power plant devastated the pristine beauty of a creek near Chennai

Ennore Creek mirrors scenes from the dystopian ‘Mad Max’ – a once-thriving region laid waste.

Today, if you visit Ennore Creek, there is none of that ecological harmony – instead, what you find is devastation. Over the years, the creek and Buckingham Canal had a number of interventions, the largest of which came in 1994, when the North Chennai Thermal Power Station at Ennore was commissioned.

What resulted in development for one part of Chennai led to the decline of communities closest to the site of progress. Several villages along the creek were relocated to its other side to accommodate the plant. At that time, one male member of each displaced family was guaranteed a job in the power station – but the employment lasted a generation, and the waste from the plant disfigured the creek.

Credit: TejInder Singh
Credit: TejInder Singh

With time, as more industries came up in the region, the creek’s natural carrying capacity shrank, raising the risk of floods and cyclones. The discharge from the plant also affected the communities’ health, causing skin allergies, respiratory illnesses and increased chances of cancer and tuberculosis.

Another disaster was the loss of fish because of contamination of the water. “Our wives have to buy fish from other villages and sell that in the market,” said a fisherman. “If people knew which village this fish came from, they will offer a very low price or even refuse to buy it. The water in this part of the creek contaminates the sea life. We can’t use it for our own consumption or rely on it for our livelihood.”

So, while the plant increased opportunities in the cities by providing them electricity, it stripped future generations of the fishing communities of assured livelihoods.

Credit: TejInder Singh
Credit: TejInder Singh

For kilometres around the power plant today, you can see smokestacks, something the plant is synonymous with. Along the creek, what appears to be a grey, sandy beach is really the even spread of fly ash, which has covered the mangrove at the end of the Buckingham Canal.

Despite the intervention of the National Green Tribunal, and protests by the fishing communities and civil society groups, the fly ash beach is expanding further into the mangrove, largely due to the leaks in the plant’s pipeline that pours out like a fountain stream. Continue reading

‘Give us back our river’

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Parshathy J Nath visits the Ennore creek, a waterbody in distress, and listens to the stories of fishermen as they relive the good old day. One part of the Ennore creek, covered with a layer of black mass, lies still like a corpse. Another channel of dark water, the Buckingham Canal, which carries petroleum effluents from Manali, runs a few kilometres from it. I am at Kattukuppam, a fishing hamlet in Ennore, North Chennai, with city-based environment activist Nityanand Jayaraman.

The creek, which drains the Araniyar and Kosasthalaiyar rivers, once ran unperturbed, carrying crystal-clear water. The Buckingham canal, a salt-water navigation system built in the 19th Century, was a treasure trove of fish. This is all just a memory now.

I look around to see the origin of this injustice — fly ash from a power plant in Vallur and a thermal power station have destroyed the river, its fish, and the livelihood and childhood memories of the fishermen.

Like everyone else in the city, I learned of the state of Ennore and its associated wetlands, thanks to the viral ‘Chennai Poromboke Paadal’ video featuring T.M. Krishna.

“Ennore is now a river in distress, begging to be saved. For years, nobody has paid any attention to it,” says Jayaraman, who has been tirelessly working with his eco-warriors for the last four years to save the area from encroachment by the Kamarajar Port that opened in 2001. He takes me around Mugatwarakuppam, Kattukuppam and Sivanpadai, the three fishing villages dependant on the river.

The smell of fish welcomes me into this village. Women squat on the ground with the early-morning catch, primarily prawns. There was a time when fishermen used to boast about Ennore fish and crab. Now, they hesitate to call guests over for a meal, because most of the fish are poisoned by the effluents. Ennore used to be a weekend getaway with sprawling vegetation during the Raj. “The first signs of pollution began in the 1980s, when industries in Manali released effluents into the Canal. Around the same time, waste from the Northern areas was sent down the Canal towards Ennore, along with downstream products from the sister associates of the Manali petrochemical industry.”

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Chennai Poromboke Paadal ft. TM Krishna

Karnatik Music Video Spotlights Ennore as Environmental Crime Scene

Noted writer Perumal Murugan today released an unusual music video titled “Chennai Poromboke Paadal” featuring T.M. Krishna that highlights the Ennore Creek as an environmental crime scene. Shot in and around the Ennore creek, the campaign film. Conceived by city-based environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman focuses on the encroachments by Kamarajar Port and the rampant flyash pollution by TANGEDCO. The video, which was directed by Rathindran Prasad of Kodaikanal Won’t fame, is unique in many ways. The song, written by up-and-coming singer, songwriter Kaber Vasuki, was originally sung as a Tamil rock song and later rendered to Karnatik by R.K. Shriramkumar. […]

To view the full Press Release in English : Click Here

இந்த ஊடக அறிவிப்பை தமிழில் பார்க்க: இங்கே அழுத்தவும்.

For more information, contact: Nityanand Jayaraman – 9444082401

A Justice Rocks Initiative.

No. 92, 3rd Cross, Thiruvalluvar Nagar, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600090

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