Greenpeace Study Reveals Increase in Systemic Diseases Due to Pollution in Medak District of AP.

Feature story - October 26, 2004
HYDERABAD, India — Greenpeace today released findings of the "State of Community health at Medak district", an epidemiological health study that reveals abnormally high rates of pollution related illnesses like cancer, heart diseases, asthma and bronchitis caused by the release of a multitude of toxins into the environment by industries of Medak district.

Save our Lakes... Save our Lives

The study villages for the epidemiological survey were Bonthapally, Chitkul, Digwal, Gaddapotharam, Kazhipally, Kistareddypet, Pashamialaram, Pocharam and Sultanpur from Patancheru, Jinnaram and Kohir Mandals. The villages of the control groups were Musapet, Ramojipally, Uthloor and Veerojipally of the Shankarampet Mandal.

The survey very clearly illustrates that there is an overwhelming increase in most types of systemic diseases across the study group as compared to the control group. Clinically confirmed cancer is 11 times higher in the study group. Diseases of the respiratory system affect 1 in every 20 people. The prevalence of heart diseases is 16 times higher in the study group. Key systems such as nervous, digestive and circulatory have been damaged and congenital malformations amongst others are rampant simply because the community has been exposed to a cocktail of chemical poisons for over two decades now.

"The study started on the premise of finding evidence of people affected by pollution," said Bidhan Chandra Singh, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace India, "But the results are far more shocking than we had expected."

The study was undertaken to estimate the impact of pollution on the health of the community at Medak. An open-ended exploratory questionnaire was administered to document the health related information of the study group. These results were then compared to the results of a control group - people belonging to similar demographic groups but less exposed to pollution. An advisory board comprising of a team of medical experts was involved in the design of the study and in resolving issues like scientific biases, sampling sizes, study ethics, selection of study and control groups and statistical analysis. This comparative study conducted in nine study villages and four control villages, examined and documented the impacts of pollution on the health of 10, 874 individuals.

Thousands of acres of agricultural land in villages in and around Patancheru have been rendered fallow due to the unchecked abuse of the cheruvus by industries located in the vicinity. Medak, famous for its lakes that were once thriving with fish and other aquatic species, irrigating vast tracts of land and served as drinking water source have been reduced to dead water bodies. Though these industrial estates were set up to develop the surrounding regions and to create jobs, the opposite has happened.

"Polluting industries are able to operate in relative freedom, given the insidious nature of the problem. We want the government to act now in the interest of public health and the environment. It is incumbent upon the state to undertake further comprehensive investigation and push the industry to shift to clean production to retard and reverse the ongoing environmental and human catastrophe. How much more must the hapless communities endure before the profit- seekers are punished?" said Bidhan Chandra Singh.

Greenpeace has been galvanizing the community to regain control of their environment through initiating people's science activities and highlighting how the community can use existing laws to extract information from the industry. It is evident that people living around these industrial estates have not received justice even after all these years. Greedy criminal corporations continue to rob them of their fundamental right to clean air and water, while pliant bureaucracies turn a blind eye to the situation.

In light of the findings of the study, Greenpeace demands that:

· The state and industries must provide immediate health assistance to the communities at Medak, and also undertake long-term medical rehabilitation of affected persons.

· The government must declare a state of chemical crisis in the area with immediate effect.

· The industries should ensure Zero discharge of toxic effluents into the water bodies with immediate effect.

· Full Disclosure with immediate effect: Comprehensive information should be made available to the local medical professionals and the community at Medak about the health effects of the chemicals used in industrial products and processes and in the wastes generated by the industry.

For further information contact: Bidhan Chandra Singh, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace India: +91 98455 354054

Thangamma Monnappa, Media Liaison, Greenpeace India: +919845437337

See Report (part1)

See Report (part2)

Read about Greenpeace's Patancheru Campaign

More Greenpeace Reports:

Status of Human Health at the Eloor Industrial Belt, Kerala

Arrested Development - The Impacts of Pesticides on Children's Mental Health and Development