The cost of development paid by small-time farmers

Industrialization has always given hopes of newer opportunities to citizens. When the news of industrial development had reached small villages of Chhattisgarh, they too were hopeful that their lives would change for the better with industrial growth. 800 residents of a small village in Raigarh, too were hopeful, when Maa Kali Alloy Udhyog, a steel production unit set shop.

However, ten years down the line, 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. “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.

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.

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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