India

Gujarat: Effluents give fillip to farm prod

If vegetables are irrigated using water, mixed with industrial effluents, the productivity increases, said farmers. On the flip-side, such water makes the land saline, thereby reducing the output in the longrun.

Dinesh Patel, chairman of Miroli Piyat Sahkari Mandali (local cooperative), said water mixed with industrial effluents is found to have fertiliser-kind of content, which raises productivity of the crop and benefits farmers. "The increase of few 'mann' (20 kg) per bigha, means a considerable additional income," said Ranjit Desai, secretary of the cooperative. However, a farm labourer, told DNA that such water sharply degrades the quality of land. "It makes the land more saline. It is harmful in the longer run," said the elderly labourer.

Vipul Rabari, a local youth, said effluent mixed water also spoils the crop because of its heat. "Crops fail in summer. Such water aggravates the wastage," said Rabari.

The quality of the water pumped from the river is never constant, informed Amrat Tadvi, who operates the pumping station, which lifts the water from Sabarmati river into the internal canal system.

On whether there are any health hazards to farm workers, farmers say that since they do not have to release water on daily basis, there is no visible harm to farmers or labourers. Fodder served to cattle is grown using same water. "Whether the milk is contaminated, we do not no.

If the impact on the body is slow, we would not be able to know about it," said Desai.

According to a well-placed source in Ahmedabad APMC, it is a tragedy in India that footwear, to be used on roads and sand, are sold in AC shops, while vegetables that are consumed by the masses are sold in open markets exposed to pollution. "When Narmada water was not available farmers used similar effluent mixed water from Fatehwadi canal to grow vegetables. Unchecked use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers is causing harm to consumers. But, consumers also prefer cheap products rather than something that is not harmful to their health," he said.

Such effluents have metals like lead and arsenic. These are carcino-genic and affect the nervous system. Lead is harmful because it accumulates in the body. Since effluents come from diverse sources, the contents are also varied. GPCB is duty-bound to act and punish the offenders.Pritee Shah, CGM, CERC

Toxic materials cause gastric troubles and ailments like mouth ulcers, cancers and allergies. Even vendors who sell these vegetables can get affected. Toxic elements on the surface can be removed by proper cleaning but not those elements which have penetrated deeper.Dr Pragnesh Vachhrajani, secretary, Gujarat State Family Physicians Forum

KNOW IT AT A GLANCE

Miroli Piyat Sahkari Mandali

Established  1947

Villages  Miroli, Timba, Navapura

Land irrigated  1,800 acre

Vegetables  Cucumber (kakdee), Bottle gourd, (dudhi), Ladies finger (bhinda), Brinjal (ringan), Spinach (Palak)

Other crops Paddy, wheat, jowar, bajra

Sold at Jamalpur, Sanand APMC, etc

How old is the problem?  For about 35 years

HEALTH HAZARDS

Effluents have heavy metals like Lead and Arsenic, which can cause cancer and nervous disorders. Vegetables thus consumed can result in gastric troubles, ulcers and allergies

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