Rocket Fuel in their Wells Won't Let Them Lift a Glass of Water
Residents of the Kulakkad colony in Keezhmadu panchayat, many of them who have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, allegedly due to perchlorate contamination of groundwater resources, are yet to get the promised supply of potable water.
The Ammonium Perchlorate Experimental Plant (APEP), which manufactures rocket fuel for ISRO is located near the colony and is considered as the likely cause for the pollution.
Perchlorate, a persistent pollutant, is known to interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland and is a likely cause for cancer.
According to the residents of the colony, the water supply through tanker lorries, which was a promise made by the District Collector, was stopped after two or three days.
“The ISRO had even set up a tank for 100 families to store water. We get water supply through corporation pipes only on alternate days,” a resident said.
They have also alleged that the health department wilfully delayed the publicising of the report on people affected with hypothyroidism to subdue the political impact due to the issue.
A blood test on colony residents conducted by the Health Department on March 2 had found out that many among them had hypothyroidism. The officials who visited the site had assured that they would submit the report within seven to ten days. But contrary to this assurance, the Health Department withheld the report for about one month and released it a day after the election.
“This itself is dubious. They delayed it as it could become a burning issue in the elections,” alleged Basheer, general convener of the people’s council that has been formed to help those affected by perchlorate pollution.
The charge was refuted by Anwar Sadath MLA. “That does not make sense. We had done everything to help them, he said.
The report submitted by the District Medical Officer says that 17.2 per cent of the people in the colony have hypothyroidism. Blood samples of 450 residents were collected as part of the survey.
DMO Dr Haseena Muhammad said that there was no emergency situation.
“In Kerala, 10. 5 percent of the population have Thyroid. It is true that 17.2 per cent of the people in the colony have tested positive. But there is no need for the people to start medication,” she said.
Basheer said the permitted level of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone in blood is considered to be four, but some of the residents had TSH levels as high as 14.39. “Still they keep saying that there was nothing to worry about,” said Basheer.
Basheer says the authorities did little to alleviate their fears. “Other than giving instructions that the elderly should consult a physician and children should be taken to pediatricians in the Ernakulam General hospital, they did nothing. They should have facilitated medical check-ips for those affected in nearby hospitals,” he said.
The DMO said further tests need to be conducted to know whether the patients would have to take medication. “But the facility is not available in the general hospital. The Aluva MLA has instructed us to go ahead with the tests,” she said.