Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Experts visit villages near Fazilka, find signs of water toxicity

Fazilka A team of Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM) has found signs of water toxicity in villages like Teja Ruhela and Dona Naanka.

We decided to visit these areas after receiving reports of water contamination," said Umendra Dutt, Executive Director of KVM. "These areas come under the Badal family and it is surprising to see that healthand basic civic conditions of the region is so bad."

Others in Dutt's team included Dr Amar Singh Azad, working president of KVM; Neeraj Atri co-ordinator; Gurpreet Singh, natural farming trainer; Dr Pritpal Singh of Baba Farid Center for Special Children and Jasbir Singh, president of youth clubs organisation.

Dr Azad said the villages were slowly turning into villages of disease. "We found a large number of children suffering from stunted growth. The number of such kids is much larger than the normal population distribution. Most of them show a extreme lack of development in height, weight, physical structure as well as over all well-being. A large number of children, especially young girls, have premature graying and thinning of hair. What is more alarming is a large number of children show signs of environmental toxicity resulting in cerebral palsy/mental retardation/autism/attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder/learning disability."

Skin problems among both adults and children is another major problem. "Almost all the residents suffer from digestive problems. A large number of adult male population suffer from erectile dysfunction. Also, a huge section suffers from malnutrition of varying degrees, including anemia and pica. Most girls have shown signs of premature menarche and a large number of women suffer from menstrual disorders. The prevalence of infertility among couples is also appreciably high. A very large number of women complain of miscarriages. Some of the women have had more than five miscarriages," Dr Azad said.

The visiting team also claims to have observed that the suspected toxicity is leading to considerable drop in yield from fields and milch animals, putting the very existence of the residents in danger.

Although an average buffalo undergoes about 15 cycles of reproduction, here the number has dropped to about seven to eight. Similar to humans, the number of miscarriages among cattle have increased dramatically in the last few years, said Dr Azad.

The residents allege although they fall in a high profile constituency, the machinery of state is virtually non-existent.

"Kheti Virasat Mission intends to undertake a large scale study in villages of these areas to ascertain the spectrum of causes leading to such severe problems, in collaboration with the Center for Science and Environment. It has been recently pin-pointed by various observers that water sources (surface and ground) of Punjab have been grossly polluted by industrial and agricultural toxins," said Dutt. As a first step, the expert panel suggests installation of RO water purifiers for drinking water.

The impact
* Stunted growth among kids
* Premature graying and thinning of hair among children
* Miscarriages, even among cattle
* Skin and digestive problems


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