रविवार, 11 जुलाई 2010

Punjab: An Environmental toxicity hotspot heading towards death ?

Punjab’s Ecosystem is full of Poisons!
By Dr Amar Singh Azad,
M.B.B.S, M.D. (Community Medicine), M.D. (Pediatrics)
Working President
Kheti Virasat Mission

It is increasingly becoming obvious that Punjab is turning into a hotspot of Environmental Toxicity. We have more than two hundred dangerous chemicals in our environment including our own bodies. Chemical Toxicity is the known story but recently added Radioactive Toxicity is relatively less talked about. This is quite obvious now that agricultural and industrial policies of the governments in Post Independence India have turned Punjab into hub of chemical toxicity. Highly toxic chemicals have been added into the soil, water, air and food chain of Punjab for the last many decades under the name of development. However the radio active toxicity is only one to two decades old. Toxicity of Genetically Modified Crops (Bt. Toxin) has also been added recently and has the potential of causing disaster in itself.
For the last few decades dangerously toxic agricultural inputs-Pesticides and Fertilizers are being used blindly, mindlessly and without any scientific evidence of their actual need. The Multinational Corporations which are the producers and their Governments have succeeded in making them indispensable for agriculture in Punjab. Most of these chemicals are persistent in nature (not easily biodegradable). They go on accumulating in the environment with the passage of time. Their levels go on increasing in the air, water, soil, food chain and bodies of animals and human beings. Unfortunately these toxic inputs are being used in spite of the fact that many of them are banned in Europe and America. As their levels increase beyond certain levels the health of all living beings is adversely affected. This stage has already reached in Punjab.
In Punjab we are being affected by mixed toxicity. The studies are few in number. We know what the level of research in our society is. We also know the level of the political will of our Governments to find out the root causes of ill health. We also know that how our government machinery is hand in glove with the criminals who are the cause of these root causes. In spite of all these severe handicaps we (those interested in the welfare of people) are able to gather certain observations/studies which are enough to reach certain minimum conclusions. Whatever information is available is enough to raise the questions. The observations/studies up to now are enough to say with confidence that Punjabis are a Toxicity Affected Community and our environment is full of dangerous toxins. The Toxins which are present in the environment of Punjab are much in excess of the safe limits:-
1. Fluorides: Fluoride levels of many regions in Punjab are high. This has been a known fact since half a century. It is most unfortunate that the Governments have never even tried to do the region wise mapping of Fluoride levels in the ground water. It is even more unfortunate that even after half a century of knowing the high levels in Malwa, no Government has ever made a serious effort to provide Fluoride Free Drinking water to the people of that region. Excessive Fluoride in water is not only natural in origin it is also added through the industrial waste water of some of the industries. Excessive Fluoride in the water is highly toxic. Earlier it was thought to damage bones and teeth. Brown and Brittle Teeth of Malwa Belt are a very familiar sign and identity of the people of this region. Joint and Bone Problems including the Spine Deformities are known even to the common man of High Fluoride Regions of Punjab. Lately the Scientific Understanding of High Fluoride Levels in drinking water has dramatically changed. Now it is well known that it is toxic not only for bones and teeth but all the systems of our body. Now it is being said that High Fluoride Levels in Drinking Water can ruin the whole body physiology. It should also be noted that Fluorides are not only natural but are very high the effluents from certain industries.
2. Agricultural Toxins: Highly toxic Agricultural Toxins are being used much in excess of the safe limits without any scientific rationale. We, in Punjab with 2% of country’s land are using 18% of these chemicals. Most of these chemicals are manufactured by foreign MNCs and their trade is done just like karyana items without any rule or regulation. Many of these chemicals are banned in the western countries but are being used openly in our country on a large scale. Their use has increased tremendously over the last four decades. No Government has ever tried to assess the damage being caused to human health and the ecosystem. No Government has ever tried to assess weather they are really indispensable. No Government has ever tried to find an effective and safe alternative to these chemicals. Our Agricultural Scientists have never worked to make our own model (non chemical) a success. They have blindly accepted a borrowed model from the people who had no sense of agriculture and very superficial understanding of nature. People are being poisoned en masse and whole eco system is dying under the severe toxicity created by these highly persistent poisons.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60% of herbicides, 90 % of fungicides and 30%of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic. Alarmingly, pesticide residues have been detected in 50% - 95% of U.S. foods. Large number of studies point out that Cancer, Parkinson's disease, miscarriage, nerve damage, birth defects, blocking the absorption of food nutrients etc. are because of these toxins. Even a worse picture exists in Punjab.

3. Industrial Toxins: For the last 3-4 decades the industry in Punjab is throwing its untreated toxic waste water into water streams. Earlier Buddha Nalah was notorious for this because of the Ludhiana based industry but now this picture is true about all the drains/rivers of Punjab. This highly toxic water is being used for irrigation because alternative source of clean water is not available. That is the way our foods are being grown in highly toxic water. The wheat and rice being supplied to whole of the country are irrigated by toxic water from the industries and chemical fertilizers and pesticides are being used on whole sale basis. You can well imagine the plight of those people who are eating the wheat and rice from Punjab. The toxic water; which is flowing in our streams and rivers, for the last so many years has poisoned our ground water grossly. This water has grossly polluted the upper aquifers up to 200 feet. It has happened many times that the industry was caught throwing its toxic water directly into the ground water by making a bore well. See the level of crime! No industrialist has ever been jailed for crime of poisoning natural resource water in spite of the law which was always there. The state, whose very name is for its waters; the Rishis, Munis, Gurus and poets composed and sang songs in praise of our waters, are grossly dirty, polluted, and poisonous. The water which is a basic source of life is a source of ill health and death now. What a shame?

4. Unregulated use of Fossil Fuels: the excessive and unregulated use of fossil fuels for vehicles, for electricity production and for domestic purposes is also adding highly poisonous chemicals to our environment. For example, Coal Based Thermal Power Plants are known to add dangerous toxins into our environment. The other major polluters through fossil fuels are industry, mechanized and chemical agriculture and vehicles
5. Radio Active Toxins: For the last few years it is being pointed out that Depleted Uranium, which was used in two Gulf Wars and Afghanistan War has spread to the surrounding regions. In India it was first pointed out by Retired. Naval Chief, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat in 2004. DU Mapping of the region around Kabul and Basra has been done by those who are following this issue since it came to light. Now it has spread to 1000 miles radius around Kabul and Basra. The mapping done for the presence of uranium is shown in the map below.

North West India which includes whole of Undivided Pre partition Punjab comes in this circle of 1000 miles from Kabul. The Studies done in Punjab prove it. The presence of Uranium in the hair of 87% of children of Baba Farid Centre, the water samples by Baba Farid Centre and by GNDU Amritsar and the studies of food chain go to establish that Uranium is definitely there in our environment, food chain and whole of ecosystem including our bodies in much higher concentration.
Whether source is Gulf /Afghanistan Wars? Most probably the source is this one. But we should keep our minds open. Some other source may also be contributing to the high levels of Uranium in this region.
6. BPA and Other Plastic Based Toxins: The irrational use of plastics, their production and unscientific disposal scatters plastic based toxins into the environment which are persistent in nature and are highly toxic. Large numbers of studies prove their toxic nature and scientists all over the world are asking for ban on the use of plastics for storing foods. They are also demanding a strict ban on use and throw type plastic containers and envelops which are playing havoc with the environment.
7. Unregulated and Unscientific Waste Disposal: Disposal of solid and liquid waste is done in highly polluting way. To cite only one example- go to any street in our cities you will find the sweepers are burning their collected waste. It is a mixed type of waste containing even plastic and rubber which is burning all around in our cities. The precious organic waste like fallen leaves (which should have been returned to the earth are also being burnt. Similarly highly toxic liquid waste from city sewers is being thrown into the fresh water streams without any treatment with disastrous consequences.
8. Heavy Metals: Metals like arsenic, mercury, lead, aluminum and cadmium, which are prevalent in many areas of our environment, can accumulate in soft tissues of the body. Cancer, neurological disorders, Alzheimer's disease, foggy head, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vessels are some of the ill health effects of excessive heavy metals in our environment.Heavy Metals come from Drinking water, fish, vaccines, pesticides, preserved wood, antiperspirant, building materials, dental amalgams, chlorine plants and many Pharmaceuticals.
9. Pharmaceuticals: Thousands of tons of toxic pharmaceutical are being thrown into water streams or thrown in the soil. Why?? They have not been used timely and expiry date has reached. Chemists and Hospital throw tons of their expired drugs into water bodies or dump on the soil. Patient purchased but did not consume because of large number of reasons-thrown into dust bin or sewer. In the process of manufacturing of drugs, the industry may be throwing the pharmaceuticals in the environment.

10. GM Toxicity: Bt Cotton was brought to India under the deceitful version of cotton being not a food crop because in India there was clear cut ban of Bt technology for food crops. But now these foreign MNCs are making serious efforts to bring GM/Bt food crops in India. There are lots of studies/ observations which show that this technology has lots of adverse impacts on human and animal health and ecosystem. There is a large body of evidence which clearly shows that GM Technology has the potential to prove the biggest ecological disaster. But MNCs are pushing it for very narrow and selfish ends.

2 टिप्‍पणियां:

n. achariya ने कहा…

हम यह तो कह देते हैं कि पर्यावरण लगातार बदल रहा है, इससे होने वाले बदलावों के बारे में भी चिंतित होते हैं, मगर जलवायु परिवर्तन तो हर युग में होता रहा है। अभी कुछ दिन पहले ही मैं पढ़ रहा था कि धरती पर कई बार हिम युग आया। मतलब पूरी पृथ्‍वी एक तरह से जम गई। नतीजन प्राणियों की कई प्रजातियां समाप्‍त हो गई और कई नई पैदा हो गईं। वैज्ञनिक तो यहां तक कहते हैं कि जहां आज हम हिमालय देखते हैं, कभी वहां समुद्र होता था। तो ये सब जलवायु परिर्तन के प्रमाण ही हैं। अगर अब जलवायु में परिर्वतन हो रहा है तो मैं इसे जलवायु परिवर्तन के संक्रांति काल के रूप में देखता हूं न कि इससे चिंतित होता हूं। क्‍योंकि परिवर्तन तो प्रकृति का नियम है।

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Satvir ने कहा…

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