Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Oct 27, 2004
Industry & Economy
Pollution-linked illness rising in Medak, says Greenpeace
Hyderabad , Oct. 26
A STUDY by Greenpeace, an independent organisation that exposes global environmental problems, has revealed high rates of pollution-related illnesses like cancer, heart diseases, asthma and bronchitis caused by the release of multitude of toxins into the environment by industries in Medak district of Andhra Pradesh.
The President of Sultanpur village of Medak district, Mr K. Yadagiri, released the Greenpeace's epidemiological study report on the "State of Community Health at Medak District" here on Tuesday.
The Greenpeace India team, along with experts from LTM Medical College and Occupational Health and Safety Centre of Mumbai, Community Health Cell of Bangalore and residents of Patancheru industrial area brought out the health report.
According to Greenpeace India Toxics Campaigner, Mr Bidhan Chandra Singh, the health study surveyed 10,874 people in nine villages of Bonthapally, Chitkul, Digwal, Gaddapotharam, Kazhipally, Kistareddypet, Pashamailaram, Pocharam and Sultanpur from Patancheru, Jinnaram and Kohir mandals. Over a period of last 29 years, about 320 industries that manufacture pesticides, chemicals, pharmaceutical and steel rolls mushroomed in these villages located on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
The study claimed that clinically confirmed cancer is 11 times higher in the study group. Respiratory diseases affect one in every 20 people, while the prevalence of heart disease is 16 times higher in the study group when compared to the control group. The study covered a large sample of 10,874 people, with 1,949 in the control group (those not exposed to pollution- related problems).
Describing the results of the study as "shocking", Mr Singh said it clearly illustrated an overwhelming increase in most types of diseases across the study group as compared to the control group.
"Key systems such as nervous, digestive, circulatory and congenital malformations amongst others have been damaged simply because the community has been exposed to a cocktail of chemical poisons for over two decades now," he added.
In the light of the study findings, Greenpeace is demanding that the State and industries must provide immediate health assistance to the communities at Medak and also undertake long-term medical rehabilitation of affected persons.
The Government must declare a state of chemical crisis in the area with immediate effect, the industries should ensure zero discharge of toxic effluents into the water bodies and comprehensive information should be made available to the local medical professionals and the people about the health of the industrial chemicals.
Greenpeace says that thousands of acres of agricultural land in the nine villages have been rendered fallow due to unchecked abuse of the irrigation tanks by industries located in the vicinity.
Though the industrial estates were set up to develop the region to create jobs, the opposite has happened, it said.
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