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Eloor is one of the world's most toxic spots

George Iype in Kochi | October 10, 2003 11:51 IST

The industrial belt of Eloor in Kerala is one of the world's 'top toxic hot spots', according to international environment group Greenpeace.

Unchecked pollution in the area, says an elaborate study conducted by Greenpeace, has led to people in Eloor near Kochi suffering from higher rates of death and disease.

Greenpeace holds the Hindustan Insecticides Ltd that has been manufacturing pesticides at its Eloor plant responsible for making the industrial village a toxic hotspot.

"We want HIL to take responsibility for the pollution it has been spreading in the area and announce immediately that it would henceforth not discharge the effluents to the nearby Periyar river," Greenpeace India official Ameer Shahul told rediff.com.

HIL authorities when contacted refused to make any comment on the issue.

Shahul says companies like HIL are perpetuating corporate crimes in Eloor at the cost of poor lives.

"Environmentalists are more worried that the 100 percent literate state like Kerala has been tolerating this kind of indiscriminate pollution for years," the official added.

According to an epidemiological study that Greenpeace conducted at Eloor, an island in the Periyar river, unchecked pollution from HIL has resulted in diseases like cancer, congenital birth defects, bronchitis, asthma, allergic dermatitits and stomach ulcers in the local population.

Greenpeace collected samples of water and sediments from an adjacent creek and soil from the nearby wetlands. Its detailed analysis found that the water at Eloor contained 100 organic compounds that included DDT and its metabolites, endosulfan and several isomers like hexachlorocylcohexane, a persistent pesticide.

The Greenpeace study was conducted in collaboration with medical teams from Occupational Health and Safety Centre, Mumbai and NIMHANS and St John's Medical College, Bangalore.

It says the chances of the residents of Eloor inhabitants contracting cancer are 2.85 times higher than similar toxic areas in India.

Terrifying findings

It said children face 2.63 times higher risk of malformation due to congenital and chromosomal aberrations. Chances of death due to an accident are 2.7 times higher. Chances that children may die due to birth defects have increased 3.8 times. Death due to bronchitis at Eloor is up by 3.4 times. Death due to asthma is up by 2.2 times, the study stated.

Saying that the waterways Eloor, the Periyar river and the adjoining villages are under the serious threat from Hindustan Insecticides Ltd.

The study says that cleaning up the Periyar river and the waterways is the only means to save the people of Eloor from a disaster.

"A poisoned river means a dying population," it added.

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