Tamil Nadu SEZ Bulletin 2 – October 2010

October 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm Leave a comment

Public Meeting against land acquisition on Quit India Movement Day, August 9th by Dharmapuri farmers
Villagers oppose land acquisition for green field airport
Mysterious Gas leak affects more than 250 Foxconn employees
Thervoy Kandigai Villagers take a pada yatra to all affected villages
Foxconn employees arrested over sit-in strike

Public Meeting against land acquisition on Quit India Movement Day, August 9th by Dharmapuri farmers

Thousands of farmers and landless labourers held a public meeting against land acquisition by SIPCOT in their villages in Dharmapuri district on August 9th, 2010. The State Government Agency SIPCOT is planning to acquire the land for future industrial estate and SEZs in the region. The earlier proposal was to acquire land from 3 villages Nallampalli, Pagalahalli and Balajangamanahalli to the extent of 2388.65 acres. But later after protests by villagers, the District collector recommended acquisition of land only in Pagalahalli village to the extent of 1141.82 acres.

Speaking on the occasion, women farmers shared their struggles in earning and retaining this land. One woman spoke of selling milk all her life and investing them in buying a land for her future generation. The other spoke of her son migrating to work outside and in other countries to buy this land. Now they grow several crops such as sugarcane, paddy etc. The farmers unequivocally said that they will not part with an inch of their land.

The public meeting was organized by by affected village committee – Nallampalli Ondriya SIPCOT Ediruppu Iyyakkam. Several organizations such as TamilNadu SIPCOT Edhirpu Iyakkam, Speak Out Salem and political parties expressed support for the people’s struggles. Coinciding with the Quit India Movement in 1942, this meeting was part of the national day of action against SEZ in various parts of the country including Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi where several actions including dharna, burning of the Act, burning of the effigy, road rokhos etc.

Click here for a copy of the press release by National Alliance of People’s Movements

Villagers oppose land acquisition for green field airport

Villagers protesting the proposed land acquisition for green field airport for Chennai were beaten up when they tried to hold a protest march and present a petition to Thiruvallur District Collector on 12th August 2010.

The proposed land acquisition of 6921 acres for green field airport will affect 2800 families, approximately 37,000 people in 4 panchayats in Thiruvallur district and 5 panchayats in Kanchipuram district. According to news reports, six village panchayats – Thirumanaikuppam, Vadamangalam, Vayalur, Thirupandiyur, Kottaiyur and Kiloy have passed resolutions in gram sabha meeting in August opposing the land acquisition for the facility.

Sirappu Porulathara Mandala Edhirpu Iyakkam members Perumal, Madhumita and Saravanan met with villagers Ms.Thilaka, Ms. Kala and Mr. Loganathan in Agaram Village. According to them, there are 108 houses in the village including 40 in the Agaram colony who farm over 100 acres of land in the village. All these land will be acquired including homesteads if the greenfield airport is located here. They also said that the water table being high in this region, they have a viable agriculture and were not interested in any compensation from the government. Mr. Kumarasamy of the same village said that they have mango orchards and harvest paddy, jasmine and also perform horticulture and have been paying land tax without fail. The acquisition for proposed project will include, beside land, 77 lakes, 120 ponds and around 10000 trees will be felled. Also, 6 high schools are within this region thus affecting education of the children from these villages.

The villagers mentioned that the public had driven away government officials who had come to survey a year earlier. Three months back, some private people came to survey which was also stopped. On August 10th, officials came with police protection to conduct the survey but the villagers did not allow them. The officials tried to continue the effort with the help of District Revenue Officer who promised to initiate a dialogue between District Collector and the villagers on 12th August. However when the villagers went to meet the District Officer on 12th, they were beaten up and around 20 people had to be admitted to hospital.

Mysterious Gas leak affects more than 250 Foxconn employees

On 23rd-24th July 2010, after experiencing ‘mysterious poisonous gas leak’ in the assembling unit of Foxconn India Private Limited, over 200 workers fell unconscious with some vomiting blood and complained of giddiness, breathlessness, coughing, pain in the chest. Foxconn factories are located in Nokia Telecom SEZ and Sunguvarchattiram SEZ near Sriperumbudur, Thiruvallur District and the incident happened in the Sunguvarchattiram plant. A fact finding team on the investigation and treatment of workers, talked to government officials and workers and has questioned the lacuna in the investigation by government agencies and the inordinate haste shown by the agencies in giving clean chit to Foxconn without adequate investigations.

Both foxconn and government agencies have indicated fumigation of the property using malathion to be the probable cause of the incident. Foxconn has shown criminal negligence in allowing fumigation while the workers were working and has shown disregard for worker’s safety and health. Interviews with workers revealed exploitative working conditions and regular repression of labour rights by the management, including harassment of workers for trying to unionise. Workers also complained of lack of access to health care facilities. Foxconn employees went on strike in the aftermath of the incident demanding action against the erring officials, life insurance for all the workers and compensation for the affected workers.

The following recommendations have been made by the team with regards to the incident:

  • Government should constitute a committee with independent occupational and safey experts, trade union representatives to investigate thoroughly the incidence of 23rd-24th July, working conditions and reports of alleged labour repressions and publish a report.
  • Based on the findings of the report, actions should be taken against the management and concerned officials.
  • FoxConn Management should take responsibility for the workers who continue to be affected and ensure to pay their ongoing medical expenses.
  • The working conditions in FoxConn should be investigated and appropriate actions be taken to ensure that all legal conditions are complied with.
  • Download full report of the fact finding team
    Download tamil version of the report

    Thervoy Kandigai Villagers take a pada yatra to all affected villages

    On October 10th, villagers of Thervoy Kandigai took a pada yatra to spread awareness on the impact of the construction of SIPCOT industrial estate housing Michelin Tyres, Harsha glass and other industries on the livelihood and ecology of the area. In spite of very vocal opposition by the villagers on the Environmental Impact Assessment public hearing on April 2010, Ministry of Environment and Forest has given environmental clearance to SIPCOT. The villagers unhappy with the insensitive action by MoEF took the padayatra to express their protest.

    A study by Madras Institute of Development Studies on the environmental and social impact due to the implementation of the Industrial Estate in Thervoy has indicated that “proposed industries will seriously impact the village nerve system and people’s land, agricultural, livelihood, sociocultural milieu and above all environmental degradation and groundwater depletion”.

    On September 18th, the locals also pulled down a wall of SIPCOT as it failed to implement the order of the High Court.


    Foxconn employees arrested over sit-in strike

    Demanding better wages, reinstatement of 23 sacked employees and recognition of their union Foxconn Industries Thozhilalar sangam (FITS) affiliated to central trade union CITU, over 350 Foxconn workers who have been on strike for 17 days were arrested on Oct 9, 2010 along with CITU union officials who were leading the strike. The Foxconn Management has been refusing to talk to CITU union stating that it has already reached negotiations with LPF union. However CITU has demanded recognition of their unions as workers who have been dissatisfied with the pro management attitude of the LPF have formed a separate union under CITU.

    The arrested workers and leaders have been remanded and booked under various sections of IPC 506(2)-non bailable, Section 144 and 143.

    Click here for the tamil version of the bulletin.

    Madhumita Dutta (9444390240)/V Chandrika (9444455385)/Saravanan(9941408181)/Perumal(9443396786); Sirapu Porulaathara Mandala Edirupu Iyyakkam, C/o H31/39, Ashtalakshmi Gardens, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090

    Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

    Tamil Nadu SEZ Bulletin Vol 1 – May, 2010 National Day of Action Against SEZs on Quit India Movement Day – NAPM Press Release

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