Report finds Serious Health Problems among Residents living around Coal Mines in Mandu block of Ramgarh District; Recommends Moratorium of Industrial Activities in the Region

Ranchi, 1 March 2021: A health study conducted by medical and public health experts of People’s First Collective has found serious health problems among the residents living around coalmines in Mandu block of Ramgarh District in Jharkhand. The study titled Health and Environmental Impacts of Coal Mining – A study of the health of people living close to mines in Ramgarh district, Jharkhand, surveyed more than 600 people from villages in the Mandu block of Ramgarh with coal mines within 5 kms. Charhi, Durukasmar, Parej, Tapin, Dudhmatia in the block are particularly affected – coal mines and coal washeries are close to these villages, some being as close as 50 meters from the mining operations. Residents of these villages complain of a range of health problems that they attribute to the pollutants from the nearby mines and washeries. The study findings were also compared with findings at a comparison site in the district of Deoghar where the population belonged to similar ethnic, social and economic backgrounds but with minimum exposure to coal-related pollutants and with coal mines more than 40 km away.

According to the report, “health-related complaints identified amongst participants in this study near the coal mines are significantly high. Ten most prevalent chronic health conditions among residents surveyed 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 authors of the study, “the health complaints are mostly chronic in nature, and inflammatory rather than infectious. In other words, the causal agents are possibly environmental rather than microbial”.

The report finds “that people living closer to mining activities are worse off in terms of their health. In other words, the findings show that the further the mines are, the lesser the impact on the population’s health”. The report further finds that “residents living closer to mines have a higher spread of health complaints – six or more complaints as opposed to one to three complaints”. 

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 has inflicted lasting negative impacts on the population living for generations in the Ramgarh region of Jharkhand. Their environment, physical and mental health have been severely compromised.” 

According to Dr Prabir Chatterjee, co-author of the report, “the findings of the health study clearly indicate that residents living near coal mines are almost twice more vulnerable to upper respiratory diseases like bronchitis and COPD or even arthritis and back pains than those residing in areas away from coal mines. With respect to diseases of eye, skin, hair and foot, residents near the coal mines are 3 to 4 times more vulnerable than those living away. The presence of toxic chemicals and heavy metals at high levels and the higher prevalence of health complaints at the study site indicate that the health problems faced by the residents of the villages are likely due to their exposure to toxic materials from coal mines, and not due to other miscellaneous causes.”

According to Dr. Smarajit Jana who led the medical camp for the study, “very few local residents in the neighborhood of mines 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 that 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 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 are completed and its recommendations are implemented. It also calls for the state and central agencies to carry out a more in-depth study to identify the nature and extent of pollutants in the environment near coalmines, and undertake clean up measures – air, soil and water sources (surface and underground). The study also calls for the state government to provide proper health care and specialized treatments free of cost for all residents living within 5 KM of coalmines with immediate effect. 

About the results of environmental sampling: In 2019, a Chennai-based organization, Community Environmental Monitoring, specializing in testing and monitoring environmental samples, had conducted a study around the coalmines in the Mandu block of Ramgarh District. A total of 5 air samples, 8 water samples, 5 soil samples, and 1 sediment sample were analyzed at a reputed laboratory. The report, titled “Biting the Dust”, revealed air, water, soil and sediment samples in and around Durukasmar, Tapin, Dudhmatia, and Charhi villages were severely contaminated. 

The study results added: 

  1. A total of 12 toxic metals including aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, manganese, nickel, iron, silicon, zinc, lead, selenium and vanadium were found in air, water, soil and/ or sediment samples taken around the region. 
  2. Out of the 12 toxic metals found, 2 are carcinogens and 2 are probable carcinogens. Arsenic and cadmium are known carcinogens and lead and nickel are probable carcinogens. 
  3. The metals found can cause a wide range of harmful health effects including respiratory disorders, shortness of breath, lung damage, reproductive damage, liver and kidney damage, skin rashes, hair loss, brittle bones, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, muscle and joint pain and weakness etc. 
  4. Many of the metals cause respiratory disorders, shortness of breath, lung damage, reproductive damage, liver and kidney damage, skin rashes, hair loss, brittle bones, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, muscle and joint pain and weakness etc.

Full report can be downloaded at: 

For more details contact:

Dr. Manan Ganguli: +91 84209 06797 (for WhatsApp call only)

Ajitha George: +91 9431960442

NGT Imposes a Combined Fine of INR 160 Crores on Jindal Power and South Eastern Coalfields Ltd for Environmental and Health Damages in Gare Mines IV-2/3, Tamnar Raigarh

NGT also in a related case  accepted major environmental violations in mining in Tamnar and Gharghoda and as issued strict directions and remedial measures.

23 April 2020, Raipur/ New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a combined fine of INR 160 crores (1.6 billion) on two coal mining companies – Jindal Power Ltd (JPL) and South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL) for environment and health violations in Gare IV-2/3  coal mines of Tamnar Tehsil,  Raigarh district in Chhattisgarh. The NGT order in the case of Dukalu Ram & Ors vs Union of India came after a high-level committee appointed by the court assessed the complaints of environmental and health damages by the coal mine in the region and arrived at the penalty amount. The committee had submitted its report in June 2019. The mine in question was owned and operated by JPL from 2004 to 2015 and has been since under the custody of SECL.

“The report is accepted on the subject of assessment of compensation”, said the NGT order dated 20 March 2020. The order further directed JPL and SECL to deposit the amount with the Central Pollution Control Board within in a month. The order also directed the Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board (CECB) to “prepare an action plan for utilizing the amount for environmental remediation and restoration of the area”. The NGT order further directed SECL to submit and implement time bound action plan to black top road and development of green belt of 125 m width around the lease boundary and provide adequate health facilities to villagers affected by coal mining in accordance with Tribunal’s previous order.

This order comes after long legal struggle of the residents of village Kosampalli and Sarasmal who have been fighting against the violations of environmental norms and other illegalities by the mining companies.

While the road to the actual implementation of the order will still be long, the residents of the affected villages and the petitioners see this as moral and legal victory.  “The NGT Order is a victory for people who have suffered severe air pollution, depleting ground water, mine fires and heavy impact on their health for coal mines in the region. We welcome the Court’s order and now urge the state administration and the NGT to ensure that this fine is collected and these recommendations  specially restoration, compensation and mitigation is implemented in the time-bound manner to ensure that there is no further damage from mining activities on our health and environment. We urge the government to ensure that no new mines are started in the region until all these violations are corrected and adverse impacts reversed”, said the a representative of the petitioners.

This is the second order of NGT with regards to ongoing environmental and health violations by coal mines in Raigarh district. In another related case in the matter of Shivpal Bhagat & Ors vs Union of India, the NGT in February this year had passed a comprehensive order noting the deteriorating environmental conditions in the region due to coal mines and power plants. It applied the ‘Precautionary’ and ‘Sustainable Development’ principles and stated that any further expansion or new projects in the area should be allowed after thorough evaluation only. That both the coal and environmental ministries will have to monitor these proposals in the light of the high level and contamination in the area as well as the near full carrying capacity. NGT has further directed against the conversion of underground mines into open cast ones, no more fly ash dumping in low lying or any open areas, strict maintenance and that the cost of all remedial measures will be borne by the polluter.

NGT also directed that an effective mechanism oversight of measures for health mitigation and entrusted the Principal Secretary, Health Department to oversee it. This is the first time ever that anywhere on a pollution matter, the court has involved the State Health Department into action and specifically entrusted it with the task of overseeing health mitigation plan.

The latest NGT order is one more step in the struggle that the people of the region have been fighting against violations of environmental norms by big coal mining corporations, which has caused severe pollution and harm to health.

The petitioners also thank all the lawyers, environmentalist and doctors  that have supported them through this struggle and continue to do so  and the experts who have helped in carrying out survey which created a base for proving their claims of environmental violation and adverse health effects.

—END—

On behalf of the petitioners

Dukalu Ram, Shivpal bhagat, Bhagwati Bhagat, Kanahi Patel, Durpati Manjhi, Rinchin

For more details contact:

Rinchin: +91 9516664520

Shivpal Bhagat- +91 6260706727

 

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

Raipur, 16 November 2017: 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 also noted “12 cases of Tuberculosis (TB) were identified amongst Sarasmal’s 341 respondents where respondents were currently or had recently completed treatment. The prevalence of this disease also requires further investigating as a much higher incidence of hidden TB and/or silicosis conditions might be prevalent due to environmental reasons.” It also found “kidney-related health issues and diabetes were frequently reported,” but in the absence of substantiating diagnostic information, could
not be adequately explored. Similarly findings relating to mental illness and disability, which also “appeared to be prevalent, and have been confirmed by a psychiatrist” of the study’s medical team, were not fully investigated due to time and resource constraint.

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.

The health study was conducted on behest of the local communities who have been complaining about health problems and serious environmental violations in the region for some time. In November 2016, a two-member independent fact finding team too had documented a series of serious environmental violations of the mines, coal washeries and thermal power plants in the region. The regulatory agencies and the state government are yet to take any action on the violations of the coal mines and the power plants in the region.

About the results of environmental sampling: In August this year, Chennai based Community Environmental Monitoring had released a study titled “Report on the Environmental Sampling around the Coal Mines, Thermal Power Plants and Ash Ponds in Tamnar & Gharghoda Blocks of Raigarh, Chhattisgarh”.

According to the study, a total of 12 toxic metals including Aluminum, Arsenic, Antimony, Boron, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead, Manganese, Nickel, Selenium, Zinc and Vanadium were found in water, soil and sediment samples taken around the region out of which Aluminium up to 5.6 times; Arsenic 1.7 times; Chromium 10 times of the recommended standards for drinking water. The presence of particulate matters in air was found to be 2.8 times higher than the Indian standard. In addition, particulate matters carrying Aluminum, Arsenic, Silicon and Sulphur are much higher than acceptable standards.

Out of the 12 toxic metals found, 2 are carcinogens and 2 are probable carcinogens. Arsenic and Cadmium are known carcinogens and Lead and Nickel are probable carcinogens.

Many of the metals cause respiratory disorders, shortness of breath, lung damage, reproductive damage, liver and kidney damage, skin rashes, hair loss, brittle bones, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, muscle and joint pain and weakness etc.

List of Industries in the vicinity of the health study and sampling site:

  1. Dongamahua Captive Power Plant of Jindal Power Ltd.
  2. Gare IV/1, Gare IV/2 and Gare IV/3 coal mines operated by South Eastern Coalfields Ltd
  3. Gare Pelma IV and Gare Pelma V operated by HINDALCO Ltd
  4. O P Jindal Power Plant at Tamnar
  5. Coal Handling Plant of Gare IV/2 and IV/3 at Libra operated by Jindal Power Ltd.

For more details, please contact

Phone:

Rinchin: +91 94253 77349

Dr. Manan Ganguli: +91 84209 06797

Shweta Narayan: +91 80560 24315

Emails:

cginfo.land@gmail.com

rinchin@gmail.com

Please click here for report.

Peoples First Collective India

People First Collective, India (PFCI) brings together professionals, environmentalists and social activists deeply concerned at evidence of complete disregarding for human rights and the destruction of our natural environment in the wake of India’s economic ‘miracle’. For as long as current indiscriminate mining and industrial practices in it irreparable damage to the land and natural resources on which Dalit and Adivasi people have dwelt for generations, PFCI will continue to undertake social research, investigate and highlight violations of environmental norms, environmental health and the basic human and land rights of India’s most disenfranchised people.