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Diseases in coastal villages due to pollution

By Staff
Google Oneindia News

Ahmedabad, Mar 15: People living on 1,600 km long Gujarat Coastline spread over 450 villages are prone to kidney stone, arthritis, stomach ache, respiratory and gynaecological diseases.

This was revealed in a study carried out by a group of NGOs, who undertook 'Dariya Kinara Samvad Yatra'', an exposure visit along the coast of Gujarat to understand the problems of people living on the coastline.

The study revealed that consumption of saline water for the major part the of year, air pollution due to mining and chemical industries and lack of vegetables in their daily food intake are the main reasons for their health related problems.

Gujarat, which is turned into a big chemicals and petrochemicals hub in the past three decades, has also added to the problems of coastline villagers.

The NGOs said though the Gujarat Government has declared Rs 11,000 crore development package for the welfare of people residing at coastline, the problems of 450 villages of coastal Gujarat remain unaddressed.

Mr Harinesh Pandya, coordinator of Janpath, an organisation founded for a mission to strengthen the local initiatives, found these health disorders among a large number of population living on the coastline from Kutch to Umargam in South Gujarat.

''The villagers of coastline were found to be suffering from various ailments including kidney stone, arthritis, stomach ache, and respiratory and gynaecological problems,'' said Ms Pankti Jog, Co-ordinator of the project. ''As regards to agriculture in coastal villages, the number of coastal villages growing cotton has increased by 79 percent in the past 15 years, while number of villages growing vegetables like tomato, brinjal, carrot, chilly, green vegetables etc have declined by 83 per cent.

The number of villages growing pulses and coarse grains, rice etc has declined by 60 per cent and the number of villages growing mango, sugarcane, groundnut, chikoo, badam and papaya has declined by 66 per cent,'' she added.

The agriculture in coastal villages has been affected by salinity ingress, lack of water for irrigation, agriculture not viable due to lack of input support, market linkage and support price, windmills along the coast. This had led to decrease in number of birds, Ms Jog, quoting a few villagers, said.

''While on the other hand, a large number of mining of limestone has led to increase in number of insects and pests harming agriculture as well as ultimately resulting in increase in pollution, she said.

''Social issues that came to light along the coastline villages included heavy migration of youth from coastal villages to Surat, Mumbai and Jammu Kashmir, non-availibility of brides due to livelihood crisis, migration of women in fish processing in Veraval, children missing their education due to migration, girls being compelled to stay home, increase in domestic violence against women due to livelihood crisis and increase in amount of loan per family,'' she added.

Giving details of Samved Yatra, Mr Pandya said, ''Samved Yatra is a process to understand the changes and diversifications in the livelihood of coastal communities in the last two to three decades.

It was a collective learning process that has it's own strengths as well as weaknesses.''


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