Eloor has the largest industrial belt in Kerala. There are more than 247 chemical industries, including the only DDT-producing facility in India (Hindustan Insecticide Limited) and many others manufacturing a range of things; chemical-petrochemical products, pesticides, rare earth elements, and rubber processing chemicals, fertilizers, zinc/chrome compounds and leather products.
Most of these facilities employ decades-old polluting technologies and discharge concentrated effluent with very little treatment. Polluted rivers transport the toxins over much larger distances endangering more people and other living creatures. In 1999, a Greenpeace study found more than a hundred chlorinated chemicals including DDT and its derivatives in a stream draining the effluents from three factories that drains into the River Periyar eventually out to sea.
The Periyar committee recently surveyed more than 300 local residents and documented chronic health problems, including urinary tract infections, nausea/vomiting, allergies, skin diseases, menstrual and uterus problems, hearing and visual defects, asthma, learning disabilities in children and neurological afflictions.
In 2004, propelled by an order from the Indian Supreme Court, the KSPCB ordered over a hundred industrial units to tighten up hazardous waste disposal and served closure orders on thirty-two of them. However, no attempt was made either to clean up already-accumulated wastes, or to plan for the future by requiring companies to reduce toxic substance use and toxic chemicals release from their factories in a time-bound manner.
Responding to complaints by community members and environmental groups, a Supreme Court Monitoring Committee granted the Eloor-Edayar Committee powers to conduct an environmental audit of all the 247 industries in the area and to report to court on industry’s compliance with all environmental laws.