154 villages in Western Uttar Pradesh are drinking toxic water
The villagers allege that industries and factories dump their toxic waste in three rivers -- Hindon, Krishna and Kaali-- flowing through these villages, which has contaminated the groundwater
Ranvijay Singh 16 Oct 2019 5:44 AM GMT
"Around 100 people in our village have died due to cancer. At present, 15 people are suffering from the disease. There is not a single household wherein you won't find a patient. Many kids are born with diseases. This toxic river has ruined our lives," said Dhamendra Rathi.
Rathi, 46, lives in Gagnauli village in Uttar Pradesh's Baghpat district. The toxic river that he is talking about is the Krishna river. The 1,600 families living in this village have no option but to drink toxic water flowing in this river.
This village is not the only one. Around 154 villages in six districts of Uttar Pradesh -- Saharanpur, Shamli, Muzzafarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat and Ghaziabad -- are drinking toxic water that flows into three rivers -- Hindon, Krishna and Kaali. The villagers alleged that factories and industries discharge their waste in these rivers which has seeped into the ground and has polluted the groundwater.
"The Hindon river passes through our village. It contains toxic water that the sugar mill close to our village drains into it. Around 4,500 people live in our village. There's not a single-family wherein people aren't suffering from skin diseases. We even went to the court, but no one acted on it," said Sanni Choudhary, 29, who lives in Muzzaffarnagar's Dhansaini village.
The Doaba Environment Committee had filed a case in the National Green Tribunal. The NGT in July this year had ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to provide clean drinking water in these villages. It had also instructed the government to treat the patients for free. When the government did not act, the NGT had, on September 20 this year, rapped the state government.
Dr Chandraveer Rana, the chairman of Doaba Environment Committee said: "The NGT had instructed the state government to provide clean drinking water. The water department had provided the NGT with some data as per which 148 villages were to get clean drinking water. But only 48 villages have got it so far. The rest of the 107 villages are still drinking poisonous water."
He added: "On October 8 this year, a maha panchayat was organised in Daha village in Baghpat district. The water quality is being tested. We have received some samples that have failed the quality test at all levels."
The NGT had mentioned in its report that 71 people have died due to cancer in Gagnauli village in Baghpat district and 47 are seriously ill. More than one thousand villagers are suffering from various diseases. The industries that are dumping toxic waste in the rivers include sugar mills, kilns, paper mills and slaughterhouses.
The Hindon River passes through Simlana village in Saharanpur district. A resident of this village, Manoj Pundir, 40, said: "It's not that only people are getting affected because of this water. It's affecting our crop too. Only last year, a farmer's sugarcane crop got burnt after he used this water for irrigation."
He added: "Three years back a survey was conducted to install a water tank in the village. Nothing happened after that. People have no option but to drink this water. Some people are digging deep borewell, but how long would they last?"