Good job bringing this to light. People won't realise how huge the problem is and municipalities are woefully ill equipped to...
Agreed; mining can never be sustainable, but then how do you get the metals to make all the things you need in the course of...
Very good piece.
Acharya Tulsi Regional Cancer Treatment and Research Centre (RCC), Bikaner caters to patients mainly from Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and even Uttar Pradesh. The hospital was founded in the 1940s; then, it was the only centre in north-west India providing radiation therapy. In 1999, it was recognised as a regional cancer centre (19 such exist in India today).
Treatment costs here are low. But people come here more because there are others in their village who have been to RCC and survived. Treatment commences immediately, reducing the chances of the disease exacerbating to an incurable stage. Cheap resthouses and heavily subsidised food also make things easy for the patients and their kin.
The hospital has a huge database of patients. This includes information on where they come from. In 2003, 1,937 patients (out of a total 4,607) came from Punjab. Some Bhatinda villages mentioned are: Rarya, Chak Fatech Singh Wala, Sooch, Kili Nihal Singh Wala, Singho, Lelewala, Mod Charat Singh Wala and Maun Mandi. Analysis of the raw data the hospital provided shows 304 cases from Bhatinda district -- around 15.7 per cent of all patients from Punjab (25.75 cases per 100,000 population). Other districts from where more than 100 patients came are Sangroor, Mansa, Sirsa, Firozpur and Muktsar. This data is hospital-based and does not represent the actual situation in the districts. But it does indicate that cancer incidence is high in the area. The data of the 200-bed hospital shows that cancer cases increased five times between 1990 and 2003, from 1,024 to 5,446. Number of follow up cases in the same period increased 13 fold.
Interestingly, 203 people from Sri Ganganagar district in Rajasthan -- an area where agricultural practises are quite akin to Punjab -- also visited RCC for treatment in 2003 (11.35 people per 100,000 population). Compare this with the cases from nearby non-intensive agricultural areas: Jaisalmer (9 cases or 1.78 cases per 100,000 population) and Jodhpur (14 cases or 0.486 cases per 100,000 population).