Peenya’s industrial pollution leads to cancer

Published on November 18, 2022 by

Residents of areas like Shivapura and Chowkahalli are bearing the impact of industrial pollution from Peenya. Shivpura lies in the upstream and Chowkahali lies in the downstream of Peenya Industrial area.

Bengaluru, Nov 18: Paridhi Jain

Shivapura’s lake water has been classified as E category  (industrial cooling, controlled waste disposal) according to Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) July 2022 report. According to residents, villages around Byramangala reservoir have been suffering from cancer and health issues like thyroid and diabetes.

According to a recent paper by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), this polluted water contains at least 60 to 80 percent heavy metals like lead and chromium. Heavy metals have been classified as carcinogenic according to International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Villagers says that at least three people have suffered from cancer in last 10 years in the Chowkahalli village. Others suffer from health issues like sugar, blood pressure and thyroid. The water from the highly polluted Byramangala reservoir can be seen flowing in the fields of the village. The farmers have been using it for agriculture and growing crops.

Vijaylaxmi Kumar is the mother of the seven-year-old boy who died of cancer in the Chowkahalli village. She says, “My son died of blood cancer because of water infection.  We had noticed a lump in his throat. We took him to Apollo Hospital and doctors confirmed it.”

Vimila has been a resident of Shivapura colony for 40 years. She has been facing health issues since the factories were constructed here. She says, “Factories have been made in last ten years, chemicals and colour are discharged in the water. If the wind blows, the stench comes. Our family’s health suffers because of this.”

KSPCB 2020 action plan classifies 334 industries under the red category.  Heavy metal industries are causing the most pollution like the dyeing industry, battery production and lead smelting.  Industries are required to treat toxic effluents individually in effluent treatment plan (ETPs) but the untreated water is discharged in the river. Small scale industries say they are unable to set up effluent treatment plants as they are expensive. As per the Peenya Industrial association (PIA), to treat 250 Kilo litres per day (KLD) the cost comes at Rs ten crore and small-scale industries are unable to afford it.

M Chandrashekar, secretory of PIA says, “For ten years we are asking government to provide us a CETP (common effluent treatment plan) and support us with infrastructure support. We can’t penalize the small industries as there will loss of livelihood and revenue. KSPCB or government should provide infrastructure. If then the industries don’t follow guidelines, then penalize them.” According to him, small scale industries hand over their waste to a private agency for disposal located far away from Bengaluru

Under the CETP financial assistance scheme, government bears 50 percent of the capital cost of setting up a CETP. However, it seems the scheme implementation is not happening properly. Dr Priyanka Jamwal is a Fellow at ATREE and has been researching on Peenya.

According to her, CETP implementation will only happen if we develop a market for waste water treatment and produce guidelines for circular economy and how waste water can be reused in the city.

She adds further, “There needs to be law and proper enforcement which will definitely lead to reduction in pollution. Treatment, reuse and recycling is the solution but then the cost will go up and definitely the industries should bear the cost of treating the effluents.”

According to experts, robust policy for ensuring water quality standards with priority to heavy metals has to implemented soon.

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