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Mavoor Gwalior Rayon Factory, Calicut, Kerala, India

Struggle against water and air pollution and workers' rights violations against the Grasim wood pulp factory belonging to the Aditya Birla Group in the village of Mavoor, from 1963 till 1999.


Rayon is a cellulose fiber that is made from natural sources of cellulose, such as wood, bamboo or related agricultural products. On May 3rd, 1958 the Birla group signed an agreement with the Kerala government to set up a Rayon Grade wood pulp factory with a capacity of 100 tonnes per day in the Nilambur-Beypore area in the District of Calicut. This agreement commited the government to supply 1,60,000 tonnes of bamboo per year to the company at a rate of only Rs.1 per tonne of bamboo (the prevailing market price of bamboo was Rs 2000 per tonne). It gave the company exclusive rights and license to extract any bamboo from contract areas which initially was the Nilambur Valley. If additional bamboo was required, it also had the right to fell and remove it from other areas in proximity to the Contract Areas. The capacity of the plant also increased in a few years and it later also began producing Viscose Staple Pulp and other chemicals required to use in the plant. Through subsequent Supplementary Agreements, the commitment was increased and more forests were opened up for the company, and by 1984 practically all of the state’s forest tracts were made available for the extraction of Bamboo (and later Eucalyptus)[1]. The government assured the people that the establishment of a company on the banks of Chaliyar (the fourth longest river in Kerala,  169 km) would usher an age of development and salaried employment. The factory started functioning in 1962.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Mavoor Gwalior Rayon Factory, Calicut, Kerala, India
State or province:Kerala
Location of conflict:Calicut
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Chemical industries
Specific commodities:Chemical products
Bamboo, Viscose, Wood Pulp
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Pulp division production capacity:

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Project area:121
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:25,000-50,000
Start of the conflict:2001
End of the conflict:2001
Company names or state enterprises:Grasim Industries Limited from India
Aditya Birla Group from India
Relevant government actors:Kerala State Government
Kerala State Pollution Control Board
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Chaliyar Defence Committee
Chaliyar Jala Vayu Shuddikarana Committee
Gwalior Rayons Workers' Organisation (GROW)
Kerala Shastra Sahithya Parishad
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Informal workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Boycotts of companies-products
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The plant was shut down in 2001 and the company compensated its employees. This can be considered to be a case of environmental justice success.

However, no effort was made to acknowledge or compensate the victims of pollution. The loss of land, biodiversity and livelihood of the Adivasi population also weren't taken into account.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[8] Call for Law to Take Over Mavoor Grasim Land, Jose Kurian, 2015, Deccan Chronicle
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1]George, Abey and Krishnan, Jyoti, 2002,

River, People and Industry: The Politics and Pollution of River Chaliyar, Report Submitted to Kerala Research Programme on Local Level Development, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram
[click to view]

Revisiting Important Water Conflicts in Kerala,Gaurav Dwivedi, 2001, Kerala State Centre of Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India, Chalakudy Puzha Samrakshana Samithi, Chalakudy,
[click to view]

[2]Sridhar R (Author), Dhanaraj Keezhara (Illustrator), 2000, GRASIM since 1963 - The Burden on our heads: An enquiry into what this industry did our forests
[click to view]

[3] Industrial blackmail!, Down to Earth
[click to view]

[7]Honoring a Legend of the Chaliyar, 2009, The Hindu. "The high point of the agitation was in December 1998 when K, A. Rahman (1940-99) marched to the factory gates demanding its immediate closure with around 7,000 villagers behind him."
[click to view]

[5]Justice Denied!, C Surendranath, 2000, India Seminar
[click to view]

[6]Mavoor: A Story of Corporate Social `Irresponsibility` and Lost Livelihoods, Babu P Remesh, V.V.Giri, 2008, Labour FIle
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[4] #Air_Pollution, #Water_Pollution: Story of Mavoor GRASIM Company, Kerala, Hamidali Vazhakkadu, 2020,
[click to view]

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Last update10/10/2020
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