I wish to bring to the notice of the readers of MEL the following.
Recently, I read a very well researched article in the magazine Outlook by Priyadarshini Sen with photographs by Narendra Bisht; and the faces of the children haunt me, but they do not seem to be haunting the conscience of any of the capitalists, politicians, bureaucrats and least of all the Indian State!
This is the real, cruel story of a village called Bagesati. Not very far from the thermal power stations run by the National Thermal Power Corporation, 35 kilometers away in Sonbhadra. These power stations have wastes that include ozone smog, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and fly ash.
When totally mismanaged or rather no care given at all what happens to these wastes that are released, then the affected are the people living nearby – the wind, the soil and the water carry the harmful poisons into the bodies of the young and the old. And over years and years when the poison is consumed, it affects different parts of the body resulting in the old with bent backs, in the young unable to walk, unable to use their hands, lifelessness, stained teeth, mental aberrations, convulsions, speech and visual impairment, severe itching, boils and ulcers, and so on, the list is endless.
While several villages have been affected, the state has not taken any action. On the contrary, the head of NTPC had this to say: “We found no mercury in our zone. If we provide 2,000 MW of energy to the country, minor costs have to be borne.” Abhimanyu Sharma, DGM, NTPC-Shaktinagar.
From this it is evident that for those in power, the “minor costs” are all the devastating results (mentioned above) on the village people. This is nothing short of criminal activity.
It is also evident that in this capitalist based system, people and their lives have no value, as long as profits are made.
I am no propagator of “small is beautiful”, yes the latest technology must be used and developed. The moot question is in whose interest should all this development take place? It cannot go against the interest and lives of the people. The state is responsible for planning of proper and safe disposal of wastes at all times.
In contrast, when the erstwhile Socialist Soviet Union planned its economic growth, and expanded its industrial growth by leaps and bounds, it took great care to ensure the safety and well-being of its people. The two were harmonised.
Kavita, New Delhi