Fly Ash Gives Tough Time to Residents at Ludhiana

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LUDHIANA: Residents living on the Jalandhar bypass are living under a constant fear of serious health hazards due to fly ash released by nearby industrial units. Residential areas such as Aman Nagar, Akash Nagar, Vinay Nagar, Bhaura village and the GT Road area are daily covered by a thick layer of fly ash, which is caused by the burning of rice husk, used as fuel by the industry.

Although some time ago the government had urged brick-kiln owners to use fly ash in making bricks, they have not found it practically viable.

Fly ash is giving a tough time to residents of the affected areas. It causes respiratory and eye problems.

Jagjit Singh, a resident of a colony on the Jalandhar bypass, said: “The ash gets deposited at night and heaps of it can be seen in the morning. Every day it is spread in our rooms and is virtually impossible for a person to sit in the open”.

“Walking and driving a two-wheeler on these roads have also become impossible for me as I get eye irritation. Whenever I pass through this road, my eyes start getting a burning sensation as if some strong chemical has entered my eyes,” said Kuldip Singh, another resident.

“The worst affected are small children and the aged as they regularly complain of eye irritation and respiratory problems,” he said.

Residents have been complaining to the authorities concerned about the problem, but to no avail. “We have been making complaints in writing to the Punjab Pollution Control Board since 2007, but nothing has been done so far and a threat of skin and respiratory diseases looms large over us,” said Jagjit Singh.

‘Everything is OK’

I am aware of the problem and had asked my field staff to check the nearby units. No abnormality was found in the units. I will once again get the checking done and look into the matter personally — Karunesh Garg, SE, PPCB

Health hazards

Eye contact: Can cause abrasive irritation. Prolonged exposure can lead to ulceration of the eye.

Skin contact: Can cause dermatitis in susceptible individuals.

Inhalation: Fly ash itself is classified as non-toxic. Health effects are dependent on the duration of exposure and the exposure concentration of the chemical constituents present in fly ash, e.g. crystalline silica content and heavy metals content, which both can cause ill-health.

Tribune News Service, 7 November 2012

Photo: A heap of fly ash along the stretch of the GT Road in Ludhiana-Tribune

(www.indiacsr.in)

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