Bhubaneswar, September 15 (Odisha.in) Blacksmith Institute an US based organization has recently listed Sukinda Valley in the coastal district of Jajpur in Orissa as one of ten most polluted places in the world.
Founded in 1999, the institute is a New York based organization which is supporting pollution-related environmental projects.
One such project is the Polluted Places Initiative, which identifies polluted sites throughout the world by means of an online nomination process.
The report accompanying the list said the scoring methodology was refined to place more weight on the scale and toxicity of the pollution and on the numbers of people at risk.
The sites were chosen from a database of more than 400 pollution cases.
Sukinda Valley contains 97 per cent of India’s chromites ore deposits and one of the largest open cast chromites ore mines in the world.
Twelve mines continue to operate without any environmental management plans and over 30 million tons of waste rocks are spread over the surrounding areas and the Brahmani riverbanks.
Untreated water is discharged by the mines into the river. This area is also flood-prone, resulting in further contamination of the waterways.
Approximately 70 per cent of the surface water and 60 percent of the drinking water contains hexavalent chromium at more than double national and international standards and levels of over 20 times the standard have been recorded.
The Brahmani River is the only water source for the residents and treatment facilities are extremely limited. The water quality at various locations suffers from very high levels of contamination.
The air and soils are also heavily impacted, mentioned in the report. Chromites mine workers are constantly exposed to contaminated dust and water.
At Gastrointestinal bleeding, tuberculosis and asthma are common ailments. Infertility, birth defects, and stillbirths and have also resulted.
The Orissa Voluntary Health Association (OVHA), funded by the Norwegian government, reports acute health problems in the area. OVHA reported that 84.75 percent of deaths in the mining areas and 86.42 percent of deaths in the nearby industrial villages occurred due to chromites-mine related diseases.
The survey report determined that villages less than one kilometer from the sites were the worst affected, with 24.47 percent of the inhabitants found to be suffering from pollution-induced diseases, revealed in the report.
Sukinda is a classic example of pollution where the wastes are spread over a large area and residents are affected by the chromium through multiple pathways.
The pollution problem from the chromites mines is well known and the mining industry has taken some steps to reduce the levels of contamination by installing treatment plants.
Various organizations have carried out studies proving the debilitating health impacts of the toxic pollution.
However, remediation actions remain piecemeal with no decisive plans to provide for effective health monitoring and abatement programs.
Women workers are exposed to contaminated dust and water. Common ailments are gastrointestinal bleeding, tuberculosis and asthma, mentioned in the report.
Noted trade union leader and CPM state secretary; Janardan Pati supported the report of Blacksmith Institute and told this paper “by violating all the environment norms, the state government granted mining leases to many companies as a result the areas are being polluted. This report should be an eye opener for the government”.