Toxic fumes from plastic bag-making units are putting the residents of Shastripuram and Tatanagar at risk of various illnesses such as cancer.
Not far away from the Shamshabad Airport where CBD delegates will be landing, smoke billows from hundreds of industrial units scattered across the neighbourhood of Shastripuram and Tatanagar. Blatantly violating various labour norms and GO-111 for years, these units are blamed by the locals for causing various kinds of diseases such as cancer.
Even as the GHMC commissioner takes pride in revealing that Hyderabad was the first City in India to release its biodiversity index, thousands of residents of Shastripuram are fighting for their health. “My mother is fighting for her life with cancer, while one of my relative’s child was born with blood cancer,” said a resident.
According to the inhabitants, the locality is one of the oldest layouts in the City, but continuous neglect has prompted businessmen, most of whom are from other states to start the plastic bags-making units.
The residents who found that the air contained high levels of ‘dioxin’, started complaining to the government. But for years no serious efforts were made by the civic authorities.
“We have been fighting for relocation of units from the area, but unfortunately nothing has been done. There were a few demolitions recently but more than hundred units still exist, making us breathe poison,” says MAH Asif, an activist.
If this is the situation in the residential areas, the Mir Alam tank is the worst affected water body in the City whose waters regularly absorbs pollutants that have been dumped by the workers.
The biggest irony is the close proximity of the area to the National Police Academy and ANGRAU (Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University), where the creme of bureaucracy is trained.
Deuskar, a retired IPS officer fought for almost 10 years for relocation of these units, the result of which is slowly appearing. “No residential area should have these kinds of industrial units that release pollutants and toxins in air,” points out Deuskar.
As most of the industrial units are managed by businessmen who hail from other States, several labourers are also non-locals. Most of them are unaware of the health hazards, therefore work in very dangerous conditions. “Almost four to five have lost a limb or have badly damaged parts of their body. This is a serious violations of the labour and a human rights norms,” explains Asif.
In the recent action initiated by the GHMC, only 36 units were demolished from the 193 units which were given notices. However, residents believe that there are more than 200 units in Shastripuram alone and 100 in neighbouring areas like Tatanagar.
According to the GO-111, there should not be any industrial unit releasing toxins in 10 km radius. “It is nothing but the local leaders support that made these business flourish jeopardising the health of residents,” points out a resident, whose mother was also a victim.
However, the local corporator, Habeeb Zain clarifies that GHMC was doing its job by demolishing the structures. “Let the corporation do its work. Nothing can be done in a day or two, these kinds of things take time,” he says.