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Industrial Pollution goes unchecked in Chhattisgarh

The once green fields have turned black with fly ash, water has turned toxic in the community lake and farmers are forced to become labourers. Industrialisation is changing this village. 

When the news of industrial development had reached this village of Chhattisgarh, the residents were hopeful that they will reap the benefits of industrial growth. But a decade later, the 800 residents of the village see the only deterioration in their area caused by the pollutants from the nearby steel manufacturing factory – Maa Kali Steel Udyog Ltd.

The village’s sole water source, a lake has become the recipient of the industrial effluents and sewage of the factory. The people bathing in it get skin diseases like eczema and fields run dry, season after season due to the polluted water. The farms too, are suffering from pollution. “It has been ten years since I have had any decent crop,” says Santosh Pradhan, a farmer. One can see a thick layer of about 1-2 feet of black dust on the farm floor that comes from the factory’s airborne waste. Unable to grow crops in their fields, many farmers have taken up alternative means of earnings such as running small utility shops or are migrating out to find manual labour .

The factory authorities have paid no heed to the complaints of the farmers over the years and hollow assurances are all that the local government has had to offer. “We spoke to people at the factory several times but to no avail. Our complaints to the environment officers have so far led to no action or conclusion” says Prabhat Pradhan another farmer in the area. Rajesh Gupta, the community correspondent who shot this video suspects that the person-in-charge, the Environmental officer is corrupt. “When I call him for an update, the officer assures me that he will conduct an investigation. However, several villagers and I have seen him going into the factory premises in the company car and not coming out for ages,” Rajesh said over a phone call.

This story of farmers being affected through mismanaged treatment of industrial effluents is a story that rings true across many rural villages of India. The mindless damage caused to the rich environment of India in name of development costs India 5.7% of our GDP ($107 billion) every year. How long before we have stringent rules for industries to undertake proper recycling and disposal of waste?”

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