Toxins from a Ladwa rice mill pose serious health risks to the local Valmiki Nagar community.
The mill processes the grains into polished rice and turns the husks into cardboard material. Dangerous gas, fluid and solid wastes stream out of the mill, infecting the local community. As a result, community members suffer from chronic repertory illnesses and other potentially fatal health conditions. Official complaints and protests against the mill have been largely ineffective. Residents say this is due to the powerful influence the mill owner has over local officials and the community at large.
Valmiki Nagar was settled long before the mill was constructed some forty years ago. Originally built as a small flourmill, the plant now holds a strong economic and political position in the area. Valmiki Nagar is composed of Dalits and Jats, many of whom are employed by the mill. This economic dependence creates an even more problematic relationship between the community and the mill owner. Workers could suffer their source of livelihood for protesting the situation.
Residents in the area suffer chronic cough, bronchitis and asthma. Outbreaks of Tuberculosis are not uncommon. Other ailments include skin diseases and gastro-intestinal conditions. Pollution plagues the community. Crippled overall public health reduces the economic potential of the local residents.
Perhaps most exasperating is the fact that the mill is illegally situated in the community. It is against the law for it to be within a residential area. However, this violation is ignored. The political power welded by the upper-caste mill management over local officials is too great. As we see in Amit’s video, these small tyrants often have more pull than the law itself.
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