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Industrial zones in grip of chemical calamity

Lethal skin ailments and waterborne diseases are stalking thousands of workers and families in the industrial zones of Vatva,Pirana and Narol in the state.

Written by Ujjwala Nayudu | Ahmedabad |
February 26, 2009 1:35:58 am

Workers and their families in Vatva,Pirana,Narol prone to skin ailment,water-borne diseases

Lethal skin ailments and waterborne diseases are stalking thousands of workers and families in the industrial zones of Vatva,Pirana and Narol in the state.

Field studies by the Indian Institute of Management,Ahmedabad (IIM-A) have shown the extent of health calamities caused by a cocktail of chemicals present in these areas. Apart from a high morbidity rate,it also accounts for the loss of livelihood of these workers.

Navdeep Mathur,professor of PGP-PMP course in IIM-A,said: “The workers showed us the blisters on their hands caused by the chemicals. A parallel pipeline of industrial waste runs near their homes. The open drains sometimes merge with water pipelines. Cases of skin diseases were high. Water marks on house walls showed the extent of flooding every monsoon.”

Dr Rakesh Sharma of L G Hospital said: “They are highly prone to diseases like eczema,psoriasis,fungal infections,necrosis and other skin ailments. Bacterial diseases like dysentery,cholera,typhoid,and viral diseases like Hepatitis A and E are also common. We have even witnessed cases of kidney and liver failures.”

The condition of residents in the Citizen Nagar area near Bombay Hotel was found to be similar. Although it is included in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation limits,the area does not have running water connection.

The bore wells in this area supply chemically polluted water.

When Newsline visited the area,a resident,Reshma Saiyed,showed used vessels with encrusted layers of deposits left by dirty water.

“We were healthier in Naroda Patiya. Here,our children have developed eczema and often complain of stomach pain. A 10-year-old boy died due to jaundice last month,and every family has at least one case of kidney stone. A worker in a nearby chemical factory has developed rotting in intestines,” she said.

Bina Jadhav of Action Aid,an NGO,said that in the absence of hospitals nearby,people depend on small-time doctors. Chemically damaged skin needs serious treatment that they cannot afford.

“We have taken up the work to get water connections to Citizen Nagar and set up medical facilities for the people in the industrial areas. We will persuade the AMC,” she added.

M S Patel,Deputy Municipal Commissioner (South Zone),AMC,refused to comment on the issue.

ABYSMAL LIVELIHOOD
The workers do things like collecting garbage,sorting polythene bags,cleaning bottles and the like

They are not given any safety gear for hands and feet,resulting in pores in hands and peeling of skin

They are given acidic substances to clean their hands after work

They are paid merely Rs 50 to Rs 100 for their work

They are not given any medical allowance by the industries

Constant inhalation of hazardous gases has led to many developing lung diseases

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