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Bitter medicine for village (Jan.)

 

Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad, Monday 20th January 2014

 

Hyderabad: Stomach cancer, death of foetus, repeated bouts of vomiting and early deaths due to various health ailments are a routine part of living in Domadugu.

A village in Jinnaram mandal of Medak district, Domadugu has been identified as a critically polluted area by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Its ground water and pond water are highly contaminated with hazardous chemical elements from the effluents released by the bulk drug manufacturing industries in the locality.

Both the state government and the state’s environment watch dog — the AP Pollution Control Board — have chosen to ignore the plight of the villagers and to turn a blind eye to the gross violation by the bulk drug units in the area. A recent visit by a group of environmentalists led to shocking revelations. In the last few years, more than 12 deaths due to stomach cancer have been reported from the village.

“Unaware of the toxicity levels of the ground water, people from the poorer sections were using it for drinking till a few months back. These deaths were caused by the consumption of polluted ground water,” said Prof. Vijay Haragopal, who has been spearheading the campaign against the gross violation of bulk drug units.

“The untreated hazardous effluents released by drug units of Hetero Drugs Ltd., Unit- I (located less than a mile away from village), in the open land of the village and in the pond have polluted the ground water,” he said.

M. Balreddy, a resident of Domadugu said, “My mother died of stomach cancer a few months back. A friend too died because of similar tumors in the stomach. Doctors said that the cause of death was the polluted ground water. In fact, there are several cases of loss of pregnancy in this region.”

Jasveen Jairath of Save Our Urban Lakes said, “We have made several representations to the APPCB, but nothing concrete has been done. Nor have they done anything about the drug units that openly dump effluents into the open, in clear violation of norms.” Even animals fall prey to the polluted water in the pond.

“Why have the authorities turned a blind eye to the violations by the drug firms. They are said to be manufacturing over 100 unpatented drugs,” wondered K. Veera Reddy, an environmental activist.

“Major pharma companies including Aurobindo, Hetero Drugs, Covalent, SMS, Astrix, Dr. Reddy’s, Divis Laboratories, NATCO and Granules were among the 38 top gross violators of PCB norms,” Veera Reddy said.

A highly placed source in the APPCB said, “Though these bulk drug and intermediate bulk drug manufacturing unit claim to use Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) technology (a facility that treats effluents) none of have them installed it.

In fact, the idea itself is not feasible as it involves huge investment and power consumption.” Another environment activist, Capt. J Rama Rao alleges, “Certain APPCB members have their own drug manufacturing units. They are hand-in glove. How can you expect them to take action?”