Mercury contamination sets alarm bells ringing in Singrauli

NEW DELHI: Close on the heels of violent anti-Sterlite protests at Tuticorin, there is another alarming on pollution — this time from the Singrauli region on the border of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 4

Close on the heels of violent anti-Sterlite protests at Tuticorin, there is another alarming update on pollution — this time from the Singrauli region on the border of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. A study by the All India Institute of Ayurveda in the 300-km area of Sonbhadra district has discovered alarming levels of mercury contamination in hair and nails of villagers as well as soil and plants, says a statement.

The study refers and infers upon several other past studies, including water, soil and biological testing of hair, blood and nails, where heavy metals such as mercury were detected. Soil was found to be contaminated in all directions, where coal-fired power plants are operational, and cadmium, lead, arsenic and nickel were detected.

The report says that on Sunday more than 900 persons from the region gathered to submit their concerns in light of these reports, including the one by the NGT core committee, which clearly asked for a moratorium on further expansion in the region as per the guidelines of the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) until pollution abatement measures are implemented.

While the Environment Ministry declared Singrauli as a critically polluted area in 2009, the AIIA says there is no information in public domain on air pollution levels nor are citizens aware of any safety measures that are to be taken. More than 249 villages have been declared affected by pollution in the region.

Sonbadhra is part of the Singrauli region bordering Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and was declared critically polluted in 2009. A moratorium was passed on further expansion in the region which was subsequently lifted in 2011. The region generated 22GW of coal-fired energy everyday — close to 15% of India’s energy needs.

Meanwhile, India generates more than 25,000 tonne plastic waste everyday and recycles around 60% of it. Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said environment protection was not merely a technical but a moral issue.

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