Home Lead Story In photos: Kozhikode sewage treatment plant faces stiff opposition from locals

In photos: Kozhikode sewage treatment plant faces stiff opposition from locals

Since January this year, a Muslim fisherman community in Kozhikode, Kerala is up in arms against the administration for its plan to construct a sewage treatment plant nearby their homes. The community views the plant as a threat to their lives which will hamper their livelihood.

Basil Islam | TwoCircles.net 

KOZHIKODE (KERALA) — Protests against the proposed sewage treatment plant (STP) at Avikkal Thodu, a fishermen’s locality in Kozhikode district of Kerala, have been going on since January this year. Residents of the area, who are predominantly Muslim and depend on fishing for a livelihood, complained that the sewage plant will be a threat to their everyday life. The plant will be built in a congested residential locality and as per residents will affect the water quality of the adjacent stream into the sea. 

People from different political backgrounds have come together under the aegis of Janakeeya Samara Samithi (People’s Protest Committee) against the construction of the sewage plant. People alleged that the authorities are not giving heed to their concerns despite their long public protests. Ministers and leaders from the ruling party Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M), including MV Govindan and P. Mohanan, have criticized the protestors and branded them as “terrorists and urban Naxals” alleging their association with Social Democratic Party in India (SDPI) and Jamaat-e-Islami. 

The protestors alleged that they are facing a heavy police crackdown. As per them, many protestors, including pregnant women and minor boys, are charged with criminal cases under the Goonda Act and PDPP Act. 

The proposed land for the plant is located amid residential buildings and on the wetland of a nearby waterbody. Kozhikode corporation has cleared off vegetation in the land and made it a landfill with waste. Protest committee vice chairman Basheer pointed out that this has been done in violation of the Environment Protection Act. | Photo by Thoufeeq K
Protesters point out that the treated water discharged to the sea will enter the lee of adjacent Vellayil harbour breakwater. | Photo by Thoufeeq K
The livelihood of a majority of the people in Avikkal Thodu is fishing. They go fishing at sea while many others work at the Vellayil harbour. Labourers working neck-deep in the lee waters will get infected with diseases from this chemically treated water. They will also lose the market for fish from the affected harbour. | Photo by Thoufeeq K
Irfan Habib, convenor of the protest committee, alleged that a boy from the area who went to the vellayil Police Station for a different matter was illegally kept in custody last night. “These attacks against a democratic protest prove that our struggle is on the right path. They are afraid of our collective strength,” he said. | Photo by Thoufeeq K
Amid the communist party’s campaigns to discredit the protest, their concerns are voiced by the media. | Photo by Thoufeeq K
The reserve battalion of Malabar Special Police camped outside the protest site in Avikkal Thodu. Protests held in the area were dealt with lathi charges and teargas. | Photo by Thoufeeq K


Basil Islam is an independent journalist and researcher based in South India. He tweets at @baasiie