Cancerous Dust Smothers Rural Rajasthan

Illegal asphalt factories endangers life in Karuali district

About the video: The very air of the village of Asthal in Karuali district, Rajasthan has turned against the inhabitants. Crops wither before harvest and the trees have stopped to bear fruits. One in ten villagers suffers from cancer or falls victim to a serious strain of tuberculosis.  All fingers are pointing at the 5 asphalt factories that have been churning out toxic fumes and black dust almost every single day for the last ten years.

The Bharathpur Pollution Board, under whose purview the factory land falls, maintains that no permit has been issued for the setting up of these units. The legality of the factories is further challenged by a neighbouring temple which accuses the factory of forcefully occupying temple land. The factory owners claim that their factories provide much needed employment to the locals but the fact remains that the factories workforce of around 50 workers are all migrant labourers from other parts of the country. The people of the village are tired of breathing the poisoned air and are calling for all units to be shut down permanently.

Our Community Correspondent Says: Community Correspondent Sunita Kasera is a resident of the neighbouring town of Karuali. She first heard of the situation in Asthal from a newspaper report chronicling the land dispute. It was when she visited the location that she was witness to extent of the devastation of the human and the environment. “Almost every other person in the village that I met during my visit was suffering from some form of cancer or a respiratory disorder. They are spending all their earnings on medicine and at the same time, their farms continue to yield lesser and lesser produce,” says Sunita.

She is now part of a local campaign to shut down the units and shift them away from the village. A notice has been served to the factory to prove its legality and Sunita’s visit to the premises has already caused the factory owners enough worry that they shut the plants down for a few days after she had captured the footage.

“The factory has already caused enough suffering and if nothing is done about it soon an entire generation will suffer from the after effects. The people are on our side and so is the law. The balance has tipped in our favour and now we are calling on the authorities to affirm it.”

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