Residents of villages near Chapraula industrial area held a mass meeting on Sunday to discuss the growing incidence of cancer cases in the area.
During the meeting, organised by citizens’ group Jai Ho Sankalp Seva Kaand, it was decided that “documentary evidence” of patients undergoing treatment and cancer deaths in the last five years will be submitted to the district authorities on Thursday.
Yogesh Nagar, the convenor of the citizens’ group, said, “We have been meeting people under treatment or those who have lost family members to cancer in the recent years. A petition filed in the NGT has been accepted, so there is prima facie evidence of our complaints. We will now submit treatment records to the NGT and the district administration to exhort them to at least fund the treatment.”
The petition filed by Jai Ho Sankalp Seva Kaand and another by Rohini-based NGO Centre for Human Rights suggest that groundwater in the area is contaminated by over 200 factories that have come up there. The petitions state that the absence of a proper disposal system for wastewater has led to a surge in “deadly diseases like cancer, hepatitis and kidney disorders” in the last five years.
According to the petitions, a single village, Sadupur, reported 34 cancer deaths and seven patients who are undergoing treatment. In Dujana, the number is 50 deaths and eight patients; in Khera Dharampura, another 11 patients have been diagnosed with cancer.
After residents complained to the Noida office of UP Pollution Control Board in July, six water samples from handpumps were sent for testing. In November, the samples were declared fit for drinking. However, Nagar claimed the reports of the tests, conducted by Noida Testing Laboratories, had found samples “not fit for the drinking”.
A senior health official from Noida said, “Government and private laboratories did not found any carcinogen in the water samples though there is a marginal increase in suspended particulate matter. If there were carcinogens in the water, the gut would have been affected. But the cases reported are of breast, lung and brain tumours.”
Authorities are also investigating nearby mobile towers and other emissions as possible causes.
A government survey conducted by the Noida CMO found 39 cancer patients per lakh population. This figure is below the minimum in the country, which is reported from Barsi, Maharashtra. Barsi has 40 patients per lakh of population.
But Nagar said the survey was shoddy. “Past records or deaths were not accounted for,” he said.
The UP Pollution Control Board has written to the Chief Medical Officer of Noida and the Central Pollution Control Board to conduct more tests to identify carcinogens. AIIMS conducted a one-day camp in a single community health centre in Badalpur village on November 1, while the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has also initiated a study.
Newsline found seven families from three villages who had documented records of treatment.
Hari Chand (75) from Sadupur village, who is being treated for throat cancer at GTB hospital, said, “The water from handpumps is visibly green. Animals are dying. If we bathe in the water, we get skin rashes and itches.” In Khera Dharampura, 45-year-old Bala is being treated for breast cancer at Safdarjung hospital. Her sister Kamlesh, who lives in the same village, is being treated at AIIMS for uterine cancer.
“We installed a water purifier a year ago. But the cows still drink the (contaminated) water, so I suppose the milk is polluted. Despite a surgery, nine chemotherapy sessions and 25 radiation sittings my cancer has not been cured,” Bala said.
Meanwhile, the village pradhans and some others stayed away from these meetings and refused to acknowledge the rise in cancer figures. They called it a conspiracy to “malign the reputation” of the villages.
“To my knowledge, there are only five patients and about 11 cancers deaths in my village in the last five years… where have they got their data? The water quality is not good but to say it causes cancer is an exaggeration,” Nagendra Pradhan of Sadupur village said.