The residents of Puthenvelikkara are worried.
The village, in Kerala's Ernakulam district, is where Periyar, Kerala's longest river, meets Chalakudy, its fifth-longest river. Residents rely on Chalakudy for drinking water because Periyar turns brackish near the area.
Now, a multinational corporation called Nitta Gelatin is proposing to conduct a study to explore the feasibility of releasing effluents into Chalakudy, near Puthenvelikkara.
The company’s factory is actually situated in the village of Kathikudam, around 20 km away. For years, it had been releasing effluent into the river there. But residents fought a furious battle against it, in courts and outside – one of the oldest people’s movements against a corporation in the state.
This resulted in a 2017 National Green Tribunal judgement that issued 24 directions to the company for "remedying the injury caused to the environment and also to completely avoid causing any pollution by the operation of the industry".
Despite claiming that, overall, the judgement was in their favour, the company challenged it in the Kerala High Court. Simultaneously, it began exploring the possibility of building the new pipeline.
And Puthenvelikkara's residents have begun to push back.
This week in Common Ground, Jeff Joseph tells the story of the two villages' fight against the corporation. It is a story of the doggedness of the state’s local communities, but also of how corporations, and the government, double down even in the face of fierce resistance.
You can read the story here.