Jeremy Truex: My name is Jeremy Truex, and I am a senior at Central Connecticut State University, and graduating in May 2013 with a double major in History and Anthropology. I have embarked on this journey throughout Kerala, India with many of my friends and fellow students, with hopes to better understand how different societies work in the world, especially when compared to other nations. Because I am also a Historian and not only an Anthropologist, I am trying to use the historical record of what has happened in India to try and construct a reasoning as to how and why some of the various cultural practices have transformed and evolved.

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This was our first day that we worked with our focus groups, mine being the public health group. Neethu, a student from the University of Kerala accompanied us to a site that was being used as a waste dumping facility, but we were not allowed in by the security because they thought that we were journalists that could be reporting on what the government was doing there.

Because we could not go to in to the factory, we went to the Protestant church down the road to speak to the Reverend there until Buyhn, the leader of the political activist group Janakeeye Samithi, which opposed the site. We asked the Reverend what kind of complaints he gets from people about the waste factory. He told us that the Government told the people that they were going to create a medical plantation of sorts on the location, so the people started selling their land cheap to the government for that purpose, but the government never used the land for medical research.

The Reverend and Buyhn said that there was originally 12 acres allotted for the facility, and that now there are 45 acres, some of which was acquired from the people and some from private owners. While the Communist government was in power, Povtech was given a 30-year contract by the government to operate on the land on July 24th, 2000, but they left after only 8 years. Their waste dumping caused more bugs and flies in the area, which disrupted the church proceedings. The church had to stop their prayer to deal with the bugs, because they would try to eat the bread and wine for Communion, and the water was almost completely black even 5 kilometers away from the site.

The Waste Plant affected the community greatly. Because of the conditions created by the Waste Plant, such as dirty water and a constant pungent stench which deterred many of the women from receiving marriage proposals from men outside of the area, as well as making it so no guests or tourists wanted to visit the area. There was also an Increase in lung and eye disease, especially for children. The Waste Plant caused crop irrigation problems a well was forcing the rubber collection to decline because the Tappers could not come in during the morning hours due to the pungent smell. We were also told that the river was drying up because it was being destroyed by the pollutants.

Buyhn said that the government has labeled them as terrorists, especially after they held a hunger strike that started on January 9th of 2011, but said that the political parties did support them at some times, yet remained separate entities. Buyhn said that the activists are not organized well, and are leery of the fact that an American company may be coming to take control of running operations there.

From the church we went to a public health clinic that was a little ways down the road. We met with a doctor that had worked there for about 7 years. He talked to us about the various diseases in the region affecting the people. He said that medical issues have been resurfacing due to malnutrition and a lack of vaccinations that the children and others were receiving to prevent them from getting sick. The one point he did continually make is that Malaria was virtually non-existent in the region, which is a great thing that they did not have to deal with, unlike much of the rest of the country. He did say though when we asked him about the Waste Plant down the road, that he was concerned that this could cause more illnesses to happen at a rapid rate, as well as allow virtually eradicated illnesses such as Malaria to reappear.

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