India | Report finds serious health problems in communities around coal mines and power plants in Central India

Report finds Serious Health Problems among Residents living around Coal Mines and Thermal Power Plants in Raigarh; Recommends Moratorium on Industrial Activities in the Region

A health study conducted by medical and public health experts of People First Collective India has found serious health problems among the residents living around coal mines and thermal power plants in Tamnar block of Raigarh district, Chhattisgarh. The study titled Health and Environmental Impact of Coal Mining in Chhattisgarh, surveyed more than 500 people in 3 villages of Tamnar Block within 2-kilometer radius of power plants and coal mines.

According to the report “health-related complaints identified amongst participants in this study are significantly high. Ten most prevalent chronic health conditions among residents interviewed included hair loss and brittle hair; musculoskeletal joint pain, body ache and backache; dry, itchy and/or discoloured skin and cracked sole; and dry cough complaints.” Also according to the findings of the study, “women predominantly experienced these chronic health problems of which dry cough (77%), hair loss (76%) and musculoskeletal/joint pain (68%) were most prevalent”.

The report finds that their “research reveals that exposure to dangerous levels of toxic substances including heavy metals found in air, water, soil and sediment samples are likely to be connected to poor human health experienced by residents in the vicinity of these industries”.

According to Dr. Manan Ganguli, one of the Principal Investigators of the study, “the findings of this study are significant and demand immediate remedial measures. Our report reveals that large-scale mining, coal- fired power plants and associated industries have likely inflicted lasting negative impacts on the population living for generations in the Raigarh region of Chhattisgarh. Their environment, physical and mental health appear to have been severely compromised.”

According to Dr. Smarjit Jana who led the medical camp for the study, “very few local residents in the neighborhood of mining and power plants experience good health. We saw multiple health complaints among individuals, and medically it indicates more than one route of exposure to toxins. We also saw more than one family member experiencing identical or similar health complaints. It was shocking to see strikingly high levels of musculoskeletal health complaints among people of young age. We found more complaints of dry and not productive cough, which indicates allergens, and not pathogens are causing these symptoms. These health symptoms corroborate with effects of toxic chemicals found in the environmental sampling of water, air and soil in the region.”

The study recommends

  1. An imposition of a moratorium on any further expansion of the existing mines or setting up of new coalmines until comprehensive health impact assessments of the mines and power plants are completed and their recommendations are implemented.
  2. It calls for the state and central agencies to carry a more in-depth study to identify the nature and extent of pollution in communities around coal mines and coal-fired power plants, and undertake clean up measures – air, soil and water sources (surface and underground).
  3. The study also calls for the state government to provide proper health care and specialised treatments free of cost for all residents living within 5 KM of coalmines and coal- fired power plants with immediate effect.


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