Punjab may be seen as the food bowl of the country,but the state is paying a heavy price for it. The harmful effects of the indiscriminate,unchecked use of carcinogenic pesticides can already be seen with an alarming increase in the number of cancer-related deaths and other debilitating diseases.
This was one of the major issues discussed at the Multilogue on Sociopolitical Response to Environmental Toxicity,Health,Agriculture and Ecological Crisis in Punjab — a two-day seminar which began on Friday at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID).
During the seminar,Umendra Dutt,executive director of Kheti Virasat Mission,unveiled the People’s Green Agenda for Environmental Health,Agricultural and Ecological Crisis in Punjab,which will be submitted to all political parties in the state.
The Mission has stressed upon community involvement and participatory action research system for mitigating the environment health crisis in Punjab.
The agenda highlighted that there is significant scientific evidence to prove that Punjab’s soil,water and air have been grossly polluted by highly toxic substances. These substances have reached the food chain and are now causing diseases and deaths.
“Punjab is sitting on a volcano of environment health crisis,affecting not only human beings but all living species,” said the paper. It added that the state is “neck deep in a toxic environment”,but the alarming effects of this chronic poisoning have not been acknowledged by the government.
The source of the toxins,said the paper,are the highly poisonous agro-chemicals (pesticides,herbicides and chemical fertilisers),discharge of untreated or partially treated industrial waste into natural water bodies and coal-based power plants. It added the high level of these toxins are present in human tissues,including breast milk.