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Thervoy SEZ, TN, India


A Special Economic Zone (SEZ) has been proposed at Therovy Kandigai village in the Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu. The Village is located about 50 km northwest of Chennai the capital of Tamil Nadu [1].

The total population of the village is approximately 5,000. Most of them belong to Schedule Tribe and other so called backward classes. State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) has acquired 1,127 acres of land in the village to establish a SEZ [2]. Acquired land of the village is a common grazing land used by villagers since long to rare their cattle, called 'meikkal poromboke' (wasteland). They also earn their livelihood from the forest products; especially in times of drought, when rice had become expensive, the villagers resorted to wild fruits and spinach that grew in the forest. For centuries, people are depended on the forest to graze livestock, fruits, herbs and firewood. So, it was a community responsibility to protect the forest which serves their purpose for long. The Thervoy forest is also of utmost importance for the local ecosystem as it's an important water catchment area.

The villagers as well as anti-SEZ activists have been protesting against this forceful acquisition of common land for years. The villagers are afraid that a stream of fresh water that flows from the forest through the grazing land will be blocked. The blockage of this stream will have serious consequence on irrigation and grazing of herds. Also, due to the construction in the SEZ, lots of trees have been cut and the area is fenced, the channel is blocked. This reduced the flow of stream also one lake in the area has been filled with excavated soil [1,2,3].

Since 2007 when the project was conceptualized, the villagers filed their protest to the concerned district officials, police, elected representatives, and SIPCOT several times. They staged protests and sit in for hunger strikes. Three thousand of them fasted in front of the Collector's office, who later showed solidarity with the mobilizers [3]. However, no attentions are paid by the concerned authorities and SIPCOT. Their peaceful movements are oppressed by the polices as well as district administration [1].

In 2008 the protest scaled up after the announcement of the French company Michelin's plan to open a tyres factory. Local residents and farmers fear such facility will pollute the waters and put a risk the surrounding forests. Other companies which will likely build in the complex are Aluminium and Ferrous Alloy Metal Maker Hunter Dougles India Private Limited, Harsha Float Glass and Harsh Exito Engineering Company.

In 2009 large mobilizations occured against the land acquisition, 61 villagers were arrested and jailed for protesting.

Legal actions have been taken against the SEZ; on May 12, 2009 a stay order was issued by the high court (WP 9319/2009). Judges Jyothimani and Sivagnanam ordered for a stay of demolitions for three months, but not a permanent stop to the SIPCOT industrial park and industries proposed. On 15-9-2009 The Gram Sabha of Thervoy Panchayat passed a resolution opposing the establishment of SIPCOT industrial parkresolution stating that they wanted they withdrawal of the establishment of SIPCOT Industrial park.

In September, 2010 Professor Lakshmanan , Associate Professor, Madras Institute of Development Studies completed a useful study “Environment and Social Impact Study of the Implementation of an industrial Zone: Thervoy village of Tamil Nadu ”, which confirmed mobilizers' concerns. In October 2010 an awareness padayatra was organized to 18 villages. Talks were held on the consequences to life and livelihood if the SIPCOT industrial park with the proposed industries is established. 400 people (150 women) took part in this padayatra, which spanned 32 kilometers.

From 16/2/2011 to 22/2/2011 hunger fast was held by 3000 women and men demanding the immediate closure of SIPCOT industrial park and the concerned industries.

In that same year, even false propaganda by Michellin Tyre company was put in place by an NGO but local mobilizers found that out and chased those guys out of the area.

In August 2010, the project was approved by the Ministry of Environment and Forest in condition that the project work should begin only after getting clearance from the state pollution control board. Villagers as well as activists claim that the construction began before the required approval from the State Pollution Control Board. The government has given a go-ahead to the SIPCOT project despite opposition at the public hearing [1].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Thervoy SEZ, TN, India
State or province:Tamil Nadu
Location of conflict:Thervoy Kandigai; District of Tiruvallur
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is proposed on about 1,500 acres of 'meikkal poromboke' (wasteland) at Therovy Kandigai village in the Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu. However, the land is rich in herbs, fruits and wildlife and also serves as a catchment area in this village. State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) is responsible to develop the SEZ. A number of global Multinationals are going to start their operations in this SEZ. These include French multinational Michelin, Harsha Glass, Tropical Breweries [1]

Project area:405
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:50,000-1,00,000
Start of the conflict:2007
Company names or state enterprises:State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) from India - Owner
Harsha Industries from India
Michelin from France
Relevant government actors:Government of Tamil Nadu, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, National Human Rights Commission
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Movement Against Special Economic Zones in Tamil Nadu, Thervoy Kandigai women's self-help groups, Thervoy Girama Makkal Nala sangam, Dalit Mannurumai Kootamayaippu, National Alliance of People's Movements, Unorganised Workers Federation, Pennurumai Iyyakkam, Association for the Rural Poor
(some political parties also showed solidarity to the movements: AIDMK, DMDK , CPI, CPIM VCK, BSP, and MDMK)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Informal workers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Air pollution, Soil contamination
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women
Other socio-economic impactsCooptation of NGO sector by private companies [3]


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of alternatives:Activists say that SIPCOT has acquired the land without the consent of the villagers. So they demand the industrial park should stop all construction activities and should be closed [3].
According to the activists, the companies which are located in the park have violated environmental norms.
Mobilizers ask that [3]:
• Immediate Closure of SIPCOT industrial park and the companies coming therein
• using the illegality of abiding by PRI resolution, when Gram Sabha has ruled otherwise,
• against the wishes of public hearing
• without proper pollution control clearance for SIPCOT industrial park and
• no evidence of agreement on handing of Mekkal porombokku land to PRI and JFM committee being cancelled
• Reestablishments of tanks, check dams and trees destroyed
• Dropping of all cases pending against men and women of the village, including false cases foisted by Michellin Tyre company
• Action against perpetrators of violence against our right to protest for our right to grazing land, forest, livelihood and bodily integrity:
• Compensation for loss of livelihoods, livestock, wounds and torture
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite having gone through legal actions and many protests, local residents and supporting social movements did not see their demands beign implemented by the government.

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

SEZ act 2005 india,%202005.pdf

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

[2] A Study on the Perceived Loss of Common Property Resources (CPR) By Thervoy Kandigai Villagers, Thiruvallur District, Tamil Nadu.

“Environment and Social Impact Study of the Implementation of an industrial Zone: Thervoy village of Tamil Nadu", by Professor Lakshmanan from Madras Institute of Development Studies

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3] Tale Of A Village's Struggle For Survival

[4] Thervoy villagers protest against SEZ

Anbulla kaadu (My beloved forest): Madhumita Dutta

[1] Village refuses to part with forest

Multinationals Observatory, Was Michelin involved in human rights abuse in India?

Timeline of the conflict by Integrated Rural Development Society -IRDS (in Spanish)

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Anbulla Kadu (Beloved Forest)

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update15/07/2014



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