Community Environmental Monitoring

Project:  Community Environmental Monitoring (CEM)

Location: Tamil Nadu, India

Grassroots Partner: The Other Media

Project Description:

Community Environmental Monitoring (CEM) is an initiative by Other Media in ensuring corporate accountability and justice in matters of environmental pollution and resulting problems in health and creation of toxic waste.  CEM sees political empowerment of the marginalized communities and their right to make informed decisions about development as key to success in the struggle against environmental casteism and discrimination.

Impact:

  • In Sept. 2004, the first ever scientific report  `Gas Trouble: Air Quality in SIPCOT, Cuddalore', by SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors (SACEM), found 22 toxic gases, of which at least 13 were used as raw materials by one or more of the SIPCOT units.

  • At least 14 out of 22 chemicals, violated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) safety levels. A cancer-causing compound 1,2-dichloroethane, found in an air sample taken exceeded safety levels by a factor of 22,973.

The report formed the basis for a Supreme Court order calling for the setting up of national standards for toxic gases in ambient air.

  • The current air and water pollution levels are considerably better than before when the CEM project was started.  In Cuddalore water is being now supplied in SIPCOT due to the work by CEM team

  • In Cheyyur, CEM mobilized public opinion against ultra mega coal based thermal power plants and legally challenged the clearance granted to some of the plants in the region.

  • Indian govt. project PCPIR (Petro Chemical and Petroleum Investment Region) is proposed to be located on the fertile Cauvery delta region, at the risk of converting this entire fertile stretch into a toxic wasteland.  CEM initiated mapping of this region in order to document the baseline and current on-ground situation in terms of existing natural resources, coastal ecology and environmental conditions.

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