An increasing number of studies and reports are indicting the Gujarat government for letting off polluting industries lightly. A recently-released report by the Indian People's Tribunal ( ipt ) on Environment and Human Rights says that "of the approximately 90,000 industries in Gujarat, 8,000 are highly polluting chemical industries.
Of them 850 belong to the large and medium scale sector which have the equipment to treat their effluents but prefer to do otherwise because of the high cost of installing treatment plants.
The 11-member ipt team, which visited the areas, was requested by local non-governmental organisations, Paryavaran Surakhsha Samiti, Vadodara Kamdar Union and Vyavasaik Swastha Swaksha Mandal to prepare the report. The team focussed on the Golden Corridor area stretching from Vapi in Valsad district to Nandesari in Baroda district. The team found that the people in these areas were afflicted with asthma, cancer, infertility and related problems, corrosion of fingers, toes and perforation of the nasal septum (wall separating the nostrils), skin irritations and other health-related problems.
The people also recorded a loss of livelihood due to a substantial fall in agricultural and horticultural production and a decreasing fish catch, especially in the inland water bodies. The most serious problem in these areas is the widespread contamination of groundwater forcing the farmers to fall back on water from the effluent channels for irrigation, leading to toxic and hazardous organic compounds being absorbed in the food chain.
In Nandesari, the team found that reports by the Vadodara Urban Development Authority ( vuda ) and the Gujarat Water Supply and Sewage Board has clearly mentioned the fast deteriorating and already alarming levels of water, soil and air pollution.
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