Thursday, September 24, 2009

Garbage More Important Than Life

The Uttan dumping ground project built on the beautiful hills of Dhavgi near Uttan village and the villages in the proximity. The project sanctioned as a recycling plant is having an adverse effect on the environment, health and life of people of the surrounding areas. The plant has a capacity of 450 tons of garbage and discharges loads of byproducts. This has affected the environment so drastically in the last one year that it has become difficult for the people to live in the area. The well and tube well water around the area is polluted to such an extent that it cannot even be used for farming. As a result of this, most of the fields are becoming barren. The once clean air of the surrounding areas has been polluted to such a degree that it’s becoming difficult to breathe day-by-day. The emissions from this plant are causing lots of respiratory related problem in the villagers especially the children. Headaches due to the stench are commonly reported problem by each and every person in the village. In addition to this tuberculosis, asthma, bronchitis is caused in children due to air pollution, Malaria due to the mosquitoes breeding on the garbage, viral fever and various undetected diseases have become a nightmare for the peace-loving residents.

Uttan dumping ground protest began on the 13th of September 2009 and had a participation of around 10000 plus people mainly East Indian Catholics. The protest was a 24 X 7 peaceful vigil and no garbage trucks were allowed to enter the area. The protest took a fierce turn on 24th September 2009, when two trucks loaded with garbage were sent with police protection at around 8.00 am. The police had come prepared with tear-gas grenades, lathis etc. At that particular moment about 100 to 120 people who were keeping vigil tried to obstruct the garbage trucks. It was a peaceful protest to obstruct the garbage trucks. However the police started lathi charging the peaceful protestors and threw expired tear gas (CN) grenades on the protesters. This was at Anand Nagar.
Police brutally assaulted the peaceful protestors among whom most were women. The people were literally dragged by the police from their houses and mercilessly beaten. The lathi-charge was done twice. The second lathi charge was at Bhoot Bangla (the Uttan-Gorai-Bhayandar junction) Priests, Nuns and school children were also not spared. Women were literally assaulted by policemen and dragged to the police vans. Approximately 20 protestors were arrested and taken to Bhayander police station from where they were taken to Thane. Among the protestors arrested were 17 females and 9 males. The females were released on bail late in the evening of the same day. Out of the 9 male protestors arrested the two who were injured were released and 7 protestors were detained in the Thane Police Station. The assaulted protestors, some of whom were seriously injured have been admitted to Bhagwati hospital and Mira road hospital respectively.
The news of the lathi charge spread among the villagers/protestors by the tolling of the bells in all the churches in the vicinity. Protestors in thousands rushed out of their houses and flocked at the site of the lathi charge. The police tried to stop the protestors but they were forced to retreat. The protestors stood their ground till 6.00 p.m. when they were informed that the Thane District Court had given a hearing that “No garbage trucks should enter the area and dumping ground site for the next two weeks”. The time of two weeks would be utilized to make a firm decision on the dumping ground issue.

All social activists, environmentalists are hereby invited to join the protestors of the dumping ground project to show their solidarity with the villagers of Uttan and the adjoining villages of Chowk, Palle, Dongri, Gorai and Bhayandar. We solicit your help to resolve this burning issue.

Actual Video of the Lathi Charge:
Please see the video. Many Newspaper's have made false claim that the Protestor's turned violent. This video evidence will prove the actual facts.