Punjab, which is one of the richest states in India, is battling acute water pollution, particularly attributed to chemical toxicity. There has been an increase in the number of deaths due to cancer in the Malwa region, which has sent shock waves throughout the state. Remember, Erin Brockovich? This is a classic real life case in Punjab for us to delve into. Water Pollution: Harmful Contribution from Factories.
A known environment law activist Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal, the man who brought to life so many rivers in the Majha area, stated that anti-pollution laws stay in the newspapers only and very little efforts are taken to prevent water and air pollution. According to Seechewal, there are many harmful chemicals, such as cyanide, that are flowing into the rivers, mostly from factories situated in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Phagwara. Due to this, drinking water sources have become polluted and resulted in widespread prevalence of diseases like cancer in the Malwa region and the adjoining areas in Rajasthan.
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In Muktsar, you can just find the depressing statistics in the home district of the Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal. There were 1,074 deaths due to cancer between 2001 and November 2009. In Lambi, Badal’s home constituency, there were 211 cancer deaths during the same period. Water Pollution: Shocking Levels of Uranium Content in Water in Punjab Don’t be shocked by the information given on water pollution in Punjab as there is much more. In March 2009, Dr Carin Smit, a South African toxicologist, sent hair samples of mentally-ill children from Malwa region to Germany’s Microtrace Mineral Lab.
On June 13, 2010, the lab reported high levels of uranium in these samples. Dr Carin Smit stated, “The hair results are surprising. We expected an arsenic exposure. Instead, over 80% of adult and children, many of which are suffering from cerebral palsy and mental retardation, showed pathological levels for uranium. ” The report is surprising as there is no apparent source of uranium in the state. Executive director, Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM), Umendra Dutt stated, “with studies indicating high levels of uranium in hair samples, the situation is indeed alarming. Water Pollution: Uranium Content Exceeds Safe Limit Suggested by WHO In 2009, V D Puranik, who is heading the environmental assessment division of Bhaba Atomic Research Center, filed a report stating 2. 2-244. 2 micro grams of uranium content in one litre water sample that was brought from the Malwa region. Let’s not forget, the safe limit suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO) is 15 microgram per litre. The person in charge of Baba Farid Center for Special Children in Faridkot Pritpal, Singh said that three samples surpassed the limit of 60 micrograms uranium per litre set by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
Final Legal Take Away Tip: Punjab, a state that ushered in the Green Revolution and has been nourishing most parts of the country, is now suffering the ill effects of water pollution. Toxic material in water can migrate to hundreds of farms, homes, schools and places where people can die or suffer due to its exposure. Remember, Erin Brockovich? What we need is legal awareness and initiatives to be taken on priority so that the state government can save lives it is too late.
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