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Punjab Foundation

Punjab Foundation, based in the USA’s technology hub of Silicon Valley in Northern California, is a non-profit organization (501c3-pending IRS approval) dedicated to raise the awareness among the masses about the prevailing problem of increase in number of cases of Cancer and large number of other diseases which are prevalent in Punjab more so in the Malwa region.A door-to-door survey being carried out by the state health department has revealed worrying statistics about cancer deaths in the state. In the past five years, 31,595 people died of the disease in Punjab, bringing the average to 17 cancer deaths a day. (Hindustan Times January 05,2013) We believe that the situation is worst. Govt. agencies are known for under reporting the facts.According to well-informed sources, the actual numbers of deaths and suffering patient are much higher that admitted by the Punjab Government.


Health scenario in Punjab has worsened rapidly in the last few decades. Lowered Immunity, rising prevalence of viral infections (Viral Fevers with and without respiratory signs &symptoms, HIV, Hepatitis-B & C, Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, Viral Encephalitis and many more); Increasing resistance of bacterial infections, falling sperm count, increasing Erectile Dysfunction, Rising Prevalence of Brain and Nervous System Disorders; Increasing number of Childless Couples, Spontaneous Abortions, Premature Births, Low Weight Births, Early Childhood Deaths, Congenital Malformations, Menstrual Disorders, Ovary and Uterus Tumors; Diabetes, Hypertension, Heart and Blood Vessel Diseases, Bone and Joint Diseases, Allergies, Asthma and Cancers-- all well known effects of Environmental Toxicity are visibly on the rise in Punjab.


Evidence up to now clearly indicates that environmental toxicity is at its root. Excessive use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, heavy metals, other industrial toxins, excessive fluorides in the water, plastic based chemicals, chemicals from the coal based thermal power plants and uranium are being incriminated for making the environment and food chain highly toxic. The surface water as well as ground water has been grossly contaminated by the above mentioned sources of toxicity. The Malwa area of Punjab has emerged as the epicenter of the disease and has come to be known as the cancer belt of Punjab. A series of studies conducted by the Chandigarh-based PGI, Thapar Institute of Technology, Centre For Science and Environment, Centre For Science and Agriculture, Punjab Agriculture University, Punjab University Chandigarh, Kheti Virast Mission, Baba Farid Centre For Special Children (with Dr. Carin Smit of South Africa), Punjab Pollution Control Board, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and various other reputed institutions have indicated that drinking water being supplied particularly in the Malwa belt is source of a cocktail of toxins as it was a combination of pesticides, nitrates, heavy metals and fluoride. Possibly this cocktail was causing the whole spectrum of ill health in Punjab including Cancer.


Excessive use of Pesticides and Fertilizers following Green Revolution seems to be a major culprit. Contamination of water by the industry is also at its peak in Punjab. According to an estimate,1044 million liters of polluted water is being thrown daily into the two major rivers Sutlej and Beas directly or through their drains (like Buddha Nullah, White and Black Bein, Kala Sanghia drain, Kiran Nala, Chakki River and Sakki Nala etc) flowing through the industrial areas of Himachal and Punjab. Whole of this toxic water passes through Malwa , being in the south of Punjab. Ghaggar and its drains are no better. They are also full of highly toxic water. Parts of Haryana and Rajasthan are also being poisoned by this toxic water.


Harike Wetland also known as "Hari-ke-Pattan", the largest wetland in northern India is located at the downstream of the confluence of the Beas and Sutlej rivers. The contaminated water from Hari-ke-Pattan & Hussainiwala Headworks is supplied through various canals to Malwa area and part of Rajasthan. The region's groundwater and food chain have also been contaminated by Himachal and Punjabs industrial effluents flowing into fresh water sources used by people for irrigation and drinking purposes. Presence of harmful pesticides were also detected in fodder, vegetables, blood, bovine and human milk samples, indicating that these have entered the food chain due to the use of agricultural run-off and irrigation of field with toxic surface ans ground water.


Recently another dangerous radioactive heavy metal has come into the picture whose source is still not clear. Researchers have found very high level of uranium concentration in hair samples of children along with other heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, strontium and barium. Uranium has also been found in the water samples beyond the permissible limits in groundwater in the Malwa region. This is another dangerous addition to the already highly toxic cocktail of toxins. Uranium alone or along with other components of the toxic cocktail may be causing mental retardation, physical deformities and neurological problems among children in Punjab and surrounding regions.. The worst examples of Environmental Toxicity have been the centre of media recently.These are the villages- Teja Rohela and Dona Nanka near Fazilka in Ferozepur district where more than 100 children were found suffering from congenital malformations, and are mentally and physically challenged.Children of neighboring villages like Mahatma Nagar, Jangal Bhaini & Saidey Ki Dhani are suffering with the similar diseases.


Kids in Punjab villages are losing eye sight to polluted drinking water. Around Fazilka children of Teja Ruhela, Noor Shah, Dona Nanka, Laduka and neighboring villages situated near a drain called Chand Bhan are going blind apparently after drinking contaminated water. In Teja Ruhela and Noor Shah Villages have more than 50 children and adults who have lost their vision to contaminated water. These villages drink groundwater hoisted to the surface by several hand-driven pumps. There is no other source from which we can draw clean drinking water. The government, on its part, has simply painted warnings on the walls of houses that the groundwaer is unfit for human consumption.


According to a study conducted by a UK-based NGO, The Malwa belt of Punjab has the highest number of breast cancer cases in Punjab. The Cattle and other animals are also exhibiting similar disease pattern. Wild animals are fast dying and disappearing. Many species of the birds are either extinct or their numbers have drastically fallen. Same is the fate of small friendly animals like honey bee, earth worm, ghumaar, cheechak wauhti, jugnu and many more. It is expected also because the basic environment and the source of food and water are the same for animals as well as humans.


The chemical agriculture is already in crisis. Cost of production is rising day by day while production is falling or is stagnant. The present anti people, anti farmer and pro big business, Governments are unable to protect the farmers and consumers. Ground water is being exhausted. Surface water is scarce. It is either not available or is so toxic that not to talk of human and animal consumption it is not fit for agriculture. Soil fertility is coming down as organic content has almost been exhausted. Future of agriculture and agriculturist is dark. Food and fodder security are being compromised. Quality and quatity of food are becoming uncertain. There is drastic need to shift to sustainable, pro farmer and pro consumer model of Natural and Organic Farming. Well informed circles have labeled this situation as signs of a dying civilization. They are saying if we fail to take drastic corrective steps this process cannot be halted.


Punjab Foundation is in broad agreement with the above understanding of the present scenario and strongly wants to be the part of urgently needed corrective steps. It has been formed to bring together the voices, energy, and resources of aware people to bring an end to preventable loss of life, ill health and degradation of the environment in Punjab. Foundation understands that the similar situation prevails in many other parts of India and other countries. By contributing to the change in Punjab we will indirectly be also contributing to the change in rest of our country and rest of the world. At the core of Punjab Foundation's being are the hundreds of people who are willing to contribute their time, talent and resources.

References

  1. Ravinder Vasudeva - 17 died of cancer every day since 2008 in Punjab . Hindustan Times, January 05, 2013
  2. Prabhjot Singh - State to conduct census of cancer patients . The Tribune, Chandigarh, March 09, 2011
  3. SP Sharma - Cancer train remains as popular as ever. The Tribune, Chandigarh, December 30, 2010
  4. Saurabh Malik - HC notice to state on cancer in Malwa - Tribune News Service, January 14, 2011
  5. SP Sharma - Long battle ahead before Malwa can tame the scourge of cancer . Tribune News Service December 31,2010
  6. IP Singh - Parts of Raj, Malwa drinking poison?". The Times Of India Jun 16, 2010
  7. Madhur Singh - India's Deadly Chemical Addiction - TIME in partnership with CNN June 10, 2008
  8. Uranium poisoning in Punjab - Wikipedia.org
  9. Yadav, Priya - "Uranium deforms kids in Faridkot". The Times of India.(April 2, 2009).
  10. "Children of uranium poisoning?". NDTV. September 6, 2009.
  11. Jolly, Asit -"Punjab disability 'uranium link". BBC News.(April 02,2009)
  12. Garg, Balwant -"Uranium levels 62 times higher than normal". The Times Of India.(Jun 14, 2010)
  13. Garg, Balwant - "'Anti-pollution laws only on paper in Punjab'". The Times of India.(Jun 15, 2010)
  14. Singh, IP - "Parts of Raj, Malwa drinking poison?". The Times of India.(Jun 16, 2010)
  15. Rana, Yudhvir - "'Action on 1995 study could've stopped Punjab poisoning'". The Times of India.(Jun 18, 2010)
  16. "Toxic Troubles". The Times of India. Jun 17, 2010.
  17. Chamberlain, Gethin - "India's generation of children crippled by uranium waste". The Telegraph (London). August 30, 2009
  18. Amrita Chaudhry - "Buddha Nullah the toxic vein of Malwa". Indian Express. May 21, 2008 (May 21, 2008)
  19. Garg, Balwant - "Uranium, metals make Punjab toxic hotspot". The Times of India.(Jun 15, 2010)
  20. Sudeep Chakravarti "Laws To Tackle Other ‘Bhopals’". Mint (newspaper). Jun 10 2010.
  21. Ramaninder K Bhatia, Cancer incidence on rise in farm animals too? - The Times of India, Feb 10, 2011
  22. Punjab Foundation

Punjab Foundation Board

Water Contamination
Kids in Punjab villages losing sight to polluted drinking water

Shankar Singh, 22, lost his eyesight
a decade ago. His younger brother,
Visakha Singh, who had no vision problem when he was born, too, lost
his sight as he grew up. [Read More...]

Pollution in Budda Nullah - 7 of family
fall prey to hepatitis

Gurminderjit Kaur of Gaunspur village
on the bank of Budda Nullah is only
28 years old and has lost all adult members of her family to hepatitis due
to the consumption of contaminated water [Read More...]

Parts of Malwa and Rajasthan drinking poison?

In the wake of discovery of high level
of uranium and other heavy metals in hair samples of 80% of 149
neurologically -disabled children, samples of five children from
worst-affected village of Teja Rohela, [Read More...]

Punjab Cancer
Cancer belt of Punjab

The number of cancer patients has
grown manifold in the recent years in the Malwa area. Local people feel excessive use of pesticides has contaminated the ground water.[Read More...]

Cancer picture dismal, not complete

The Day & Night channel’s well- documented report Cancer da Keher managed to capture the big picture. Swaran Singh Danewalia met the affected families in the Malwa region [Read More...]

HC notice to state on cancer in Malwa

Refusing to close its eyes to the ailing cancer cure facilities in Punjab’s Malwa belt, the Punjab and Haryana High
Court has taken suo motu cognizance [Read More...]

Cancer Train
‘Cancer train’ remains as popular as ever

Yet another year has passed but the
number of patients boarding from here
the infamous “cancer train” to Bikaner in
Rajasthan for the treatment of the
disease has increased,[Read More...]

Cancer Express

Passenger Express 339 enters Bathinda railway station around 9 pm, as if blindfolded by the dark winter night. The sight of it brings a glint to the lifeless
eyes of Balwinder Singh (42) waiting [Read More...]

Green revolution’s cancer train

Pesticides and cancer: a murderous
concoction, a massive environmental
and health disaster, while people are
dying in village after village of Punjab
[Read More...]

Uranium poisoning in Punjab
India's generation of children crippled by uranium waste

Their heads are too large or too small,
their limbs too short or too bent. For
some, their brains never grew, speech
never came and their lives are likely to
be cut short [Read More...]

Dr. Carin Smit's open letter to Journal of Medical Physics India

In 2008 I visited north India on request
to offer my services as a volunteer in a
project where there are more than 400
severely disabled children. The majority
suffered from [Read More...]

Punjab disability & Uranium Link – BBC

Tests on children with cerebral palsy or
mental disabilities in the Indian state of
Punjab have revealed high levels of
uranium. [Read More...]

Environmental Toxicity
Punjab: Sindh valley civilization again ready to die

The whole community is put on slow
death. The only difference between the
both situations is this that in those
times it was a natural disaster but this
time it is of man made [Read More...]

Punjab: An Environmental toxicity hotspot heading towards death

Punjab’s Ecosystem is full of Poisons.
It is increasingly becoming obvious that
Punjab is turning into a hotspot of
Environmental Toxicity. [Read More...]

Water Crisis and Water Chaos in Punjab

Women are bound to fetch water on
their head from as far as 3 kms, and a vast majority of people have no option other than to drink sub-human water [Read More...]

Reverse Osmosis (RO) filtration plants
RO plants bring hope in cancer belt

Despite slow pace of installation,
residents feel it will help them combat
the scourge Installation of Reverse
Osmosis (ROs) filtration plants is
progressing at a slow pace to provide
potable water [Read More...]

RO water too costly for Punjab’s poor
in Malwa

In the Malwa belt of Punjab that is
riddled with water problems, the Punjab
government’s project to install water
purifiers working on RO theory does not
seem to have yielded desired results,
at least for the poor.[Read More...]

Uranium in Water, 200 reverse osmosis plants of little use

Detection of high level of uranium in
water in the Malwa belt of Punjab have
virtually halted the installation of reverse
osmosis (RO) plants[Read More...]