Frightening Level of Mercury Content in the Environment of Sonbhdra District: CSE
Environment/Ecology Current Affairs October 2012. Director-General of Centre for Science & Environment (CSE) Sunita Narain on 19 October 2012 released the report of the study that was conducted in Sonbhadra District in the year 2011-12 and revealed the fact that the Sonbhadra that is a part of resource-rich Singrauli Area that acts as a industrial powerhouse for the country presents a tale of sorrow in relation to pollution, non-compliance of environmental norms, poverty, disease and official indifference
Director-General of Centre for Science & Environment (CSE) Sunita Narain on 19 October 2012 released the report of the study that was conducted in Sonbhadra District in the year 2011-12 and revealed the fact that the Sonbhadra that is a part of resource-rich Singrauli Area that acts as a industrial powerhouse for the country presents a tale of sorrow in relation to pollution, non-compliance of environmental norms, poverty, disease and official indifference.
The report released by a Delhi-based Centre for Science & Environment (CSE) declared Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh as the critically-polluted area that is also an environmental disaster, due to the presence of high levels of Mercury in the bodies of the local residents and the environment of the region. Mercury acts as a neurotoxin in the body and affects the central nervous system leading to damages in the renal system.
Sonbhadra that is the largest district of Uttar Pradesh after Lakhimpur Kheri, is critically connected to the states like Chhatishgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, and acts as a co-terminus to these states.
To conduct the study, CSE as an agency collected nineteen samples of blood, nail and hair of people suffering from different ailments and twenty-three different samples of water that includes groundwater, three samples of fish from Govind Vallabh Pant Sagar Reservoir, five samples of cereals, and seven samples of soil. After conducting the laboratory tests on these samples, frightening levels of mercury poisoning was found and the results were much critical. Mercury in blood samples available was 84 percent, which is six times of the level that it should be in the body and 58 percent concentration of mercury was found in the hair. The study also revealed that the groundwater in Sonbhadra was highly contaminated with the mercury metal. The fish from the reservoir were contaminated with methyl mercury and the water of the reservoir is also contaminated with the metal.
The SCE following the conclusions of the study has demanded setting up of the mercury standards of the coal mines, thermal power plants and coal washeries. It also demanded shutting down of the industries that didn’t complied with the norms of pollution control.
In the last study conducted in the year 1998 by a Lucknow based body Indian Institute for Toxicology Research (IITR) in Singrauli region about mercury pollution in environment, out of 1200 person examined 66 percent accounted to a be affected with more than 5 part per billion of mercury content in their body. Being a NTPC funded study, it was not made public.
As per the report, there exists a conspiracy of silence and denial on the pollution of mercury that needs to win concern of the authorities. On the order of Supreme Court of India Central Board of Pollution Control also conducted a test on air and water of Singrauli area and found critical level of mercury content in environment.
Singrauli’s coal reserves amount to across one billion tone and coal mining in Sonbhadra District amounts to 17 million tonnes per year. The thermal power plant of the area has an installed capacity of 9940 mega watt.