RAIPUR: Extensive and poorly monitored coal mining and coal-fired power plants are damaging not only the environment but also the health of the locals in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh, a study done by a team of doctors and environmentalists shows.
The study found worrisome levels of toxic substances in air, water and soil samples from the area, and most of the 500-odd people surveyed within a two-kilometre radius of the power plants and coal mines reported health problems.
The Raigarh region, some 230 km east of Raipur, has seen a substantial increase in mining and coal-fired power generation since 2002. “Dangerous levels of toxic substances, including heavy metals, found in air, water, soil and sediment samples are likely to be connected to poor health experienced by residents in the vicinity of these industries”, says the report, which was accessed by The New Indian Express.
A team of doctors and environmentalists questioned 500 people in three villages of Tamnar block.
The villages fall within a two km radius of power plants and coal mines
The survey was followed by medical examination of the villagers
The doctors discovered higher than average prevalence of musculoskeletal problems in children and young people
Health problems were more inflammatory than infectious in nature
The high prevalence of respiratory problems is linked to fine particulate matter in the air
The team conducted a house-to-house survey in three villages of Tamnar block — Sarasmal, Kosampali and Dongamouha, documenting health problems among the villagers, followed by medical examinations and the testing of air, water, soil, fly ash and sediment samples from the area.
“The findings are alarming and demand immediate remedial measures. The environment and people’s physical and mental health appear to have been severely compromised”, said Dr Manan Ganguli, one of the investigators involved in the study carried out by People First Collective India.
“It is shocking to find that very few individuals interviewed by us were without a health complaint. We saw multiple health complaints among individuals, indicating more than one route of exposure to toxins”, Dr Samarjit Jana, who took part in the study, told The New Indian Express.