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Experts differ over effects of uranium

 

After the appearance of reports in the media about uranium not possibly being the reason for cancer in the Malwa belt of Punjab, some experts state that this is a wrong message being conveyed and would hinder the possible studies and tests to ascertain the cause of cancer in Malwa, which has not been done by the government yet.

“It was stated recently that Dr H.S. Virk, nuclear physicist, said uranium was not possibly the cause of cancer in Malwa. He has not done any research on uranium.One day, he states that uranium is not the cause and the next day, he says that uranium is the cause.I tested 90 samples and they all stated that water is contaminated with uranium and heavy metals in Malwa," said Dr Surinder Singh from GNDU, who is known to have conducted detailed research in the Malwa region for uranium.

Dr GS Dhillon, who has been with the irrigation and research institute at Amritsar and Punjab irrigation department for many years, stated that Bathinda witnessed a transformation since the two thermal power plants were set up here.

A higher incidence of cancer was reported after uranium was detected in the Malwa region (studies done by GNDU), and lack of proper treatment available in Bathinda made the problem worse.

Presence of uranium makes it difficult to supply clean drinking water to the villagers. It was stated by the experts recently that even RO plants installed by the state government are not effective in removing uranium and heavy metal toxicity in water.

"There were 107 cases of cancer reported in the Tawandi Sabo area and 80 were women. It was reported that the village pond at Jajjal village was filled with filthy water which was consumed by the cattle. The village was supplied with filtered canal water, which has become badly contaminated. The water in the village was found to have 59.3 mg/litre uranium. Other heavy metals like arsenic selenium, mercury, chromium and now radio elements like uranium have been found in water," Dr Dhillon stated.

Studies by the Kota Research Centre and Bhaba Atomic Research Centre confirm uranium's presence in Punjab.

The problem which should be answered is that experts have given different reasons for uranium's presence in Malwa. The experts of GNDU say that uranium could have come from Tosham hills in Haryana where granite rocks are found which have high radioactivity.

Another reason is environmental changes caused by waste generated by the thermal plants in Bathinda since 1970.

"Currently there are no rules and regulations made to monitor and regulate the environmental impact of fly ash ponds. In Bathinda, these ponds have created health problems due to waste from the ash ponds seeping into the groundwater," Dr Dhillon stated.

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