MAC: Mines and Communities

Industrialisation takes its toll

Published by MAC on 2006-11-28

Industrialisation takes its toll

NewInd press

28th November 2006

BHUBANESWAR: As Orissa undergoes a transformation; industrialisation and urbanisation are leaving their marks. If it is progress somewhere, the obverse side is increasing incidence of diseases.

As focus is on mineral-based industries, pollution is taking its toll. According to a recent environment study, severity of water-borne diseases are slowly on the rise in the State while intensive mining has resulted in grave health hazards.

The State of Environment report released by the Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) says that at least 1.24 percent mining workers in -Barbil-Joda-Koira have contracted pulmonary tuberculosis while 11 percent have tested abnormal pulmonary function. Five percent of mine workers are diagnosed to have heart ailments and high blood pressure.

There are 59 mines in the study area where 4,590 persons were covered. Similarly, five percent of the surveyed population had chronic bronchitis, chronic bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Another 0.3 percent faces the threat of lung cancer, thanks to air pollution. Noise pollution has also been causing audiometric abnormalities in 5.5 percent of the workers.

Besides, the mineworkers also face chronic malaria, kidney disorder, skin diseases as well as tumour. If mines areas have a health problem of their own, industrialisation seems to have contributed significantly to water-borne diseases through contamination by microorganisms, chemicals, industrial waste and sewage.

As per the report, during 1999-2003 every year over 4 lakh acute diarrhoeal cases were reported from 423 health institutions of the State. Though the number of cases reported in OPD section showed a decline, there was a marked rise in the number of in-patients during the period.

Similar was the trend of acute respiratory infections. In 1999, the number of patients showing up at OPDs was over 12.5 lakh,which dropped to 8 lakh in 2003. But the in-patients number rose from just 19,000 to over a lakh during the period of five years.

'The decline in OPD patients is due to rapid growth of private hospitals and doctors in different parts of the State. No data is available from the private institutions but a rise in number of in-patients, indicating the severity of the disease,' the report stated.

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