A polling booth established in the village of Nagaraja Kandigai has not seen any voters coming to cast their ballots, as approximately 500 villagers sit the by-election out to protest the activities of Chennai Ferrous Industries, Ltd., a firm which manufactures sponge iron products and whose manufacturing unit is based in the locality.
The Revenue Divisional Officer for Ponerri, Nandakumar, said “We have asked the company to stop all its operations at its factory.” In the meantime, boycotts by villagers continue as officials attempt to persuade them to participate in the elections.
“Pollution is a significant public health menace in India, affecting sprawling metros and smaller communities alike – conveyed in the duality of seven of the world’s ten most polluted cities being situated in India whilst rural areas account for 75 percent of pollution-related deaths.”
The movement has echoes of the broader strikes in India and worldwide by students, protesting environmental issues such as climate change and pollution. Recent protests by schoolchildren against the backdrop of the Lok Sabha included the rallying cry “no clean air, no vote”, emphasising the role environmental concerns are playing – or, rather, should be playing – in this year’s elections and how voters make their choice as to their preferred candidate.
Pollution is a significant public health menace in India, affecting sprawling metros and smaller communities alike – conveyed in the duality of seven of the world’s ten most polluted cities being situated in India whilst rural areas account for 75 percent of pollution-related deaths. Countrywide, meanwhile, pollution killed 1.2 million people in 2017 according to a recent study – conveying the magnitude of India’s environmental crisis. Agitation by swathes of society, from schoolchildren in the cities to villagers in Tamil Nadu, highlight how pollution is proving disastrous in the lives of many citizens and amplifying the pressure on policymakers and political candidates to act.
At the time of writing, Chennai Ferrous Industries, Ltd. did not respond to a request for comment from Health Issues India about the concerns of the villagers boycotting the elections.