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India: Health impacts of monazite mining - Citizens’ Enquiry Into Kidney Deaths in Ganjam, Odisha

9 May

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REPORT RELEASE

MONAZITE: THE ENEMY IS WITHIN

A Citizens’ Enquiry Report into the Epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease
around IREL Monazite Plant in Ganjam District, Odisha

MAY 9, 2018

In 2017, reports appeared in local and national media on the outbreak of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in a cluster of villages in Chhatrapur block of Ganjam district in Odisha.

​According to reports, almost 200 cases of ​ kidney disease had been diagnosed and over 50 people had died from kidney failure since 2010. These villages are in the close vicinity of a monazite processing plant of the public sector firm Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL).

Alarmed and disturbed at these reports, a group of concerned citizens constituted a fact-finding team and visited the area on 19-20 January 2018. The team met and interviewed around 30 affected persons, their families and local leaders in three of the affected villages. It also met the District Collector and IREL officials, District health officials and a Senior Consultant Nephrologist of MKCG Medical College, Berhampur.

Based on their findings and research, the team has compiled this report titled Monazite: The Enemy Is Within. The report covers:

  • First-person accounts from patients and their families and families of the deceased too.
  • A review of research and information on the health impacts of monazite mining.
  • The political economy of beach sands in the larger context of India’s nuclear ambitions.
  • A critical overview of chronic kidney disease as an emerging public health emergency and a review of policy responses in India.

Based on a comprehensive analysis of the facts available and investigation of the scenario unfolding in these villages, the team has concluded that the people of this area are being subjected to a deliberate denial of basic rights promised under the Constitution. For no fault of their own and merely by virtue of their location in this area, they have been forced to forfeit their rights to life and livelihood; right to a safe and secure physical environment; right to health and, most of all, their right to live with dignity and security in their own homes.

The report concludes with a few demands:

  • An immediate and complete ban on beach sand mining in Orissa.
  • Suspension of operations at the IREL plant in Chhatrapur, pending an independent safety audit of the facility and benchmarking against international safety standards by a panel of independent experts.
  • Immediate financial and medical support to the affected individuals and families, ex gratia as well as from existing funds and schemes of the Central and State governments including the National Dialysis Programme.
  • Screening and monitoring by an expert medical team to identify and track high-risk individuals and recommend preventive measures.
  • Remedial measures in the affected villages including reclamation and replanting of mined lands, closure and sealing of tailing ponds, removal and safe disposal of waste and rehabilitation of natural water bodies.
  • Preparation and implementation of an integrated plan for sustainable livelihoods for the district.
  • Investigation by a high-level expert team into the epidemic of chronic kidney disease in the affected villages to conclusively establish its causation and epidemiology, and recommend actions for prevention and remediation.

​We appeal to you to stand in solidarity with the people of Chhatrapur and challenge the mindless advancement of the nuclear agenda regardless of its consequences for people and the planet.

Please help us in circulation of this report. Please contact us for more information or ​to organise discussions ar ound the issues raised in the report.

Warm regards,

Dr Kalyani Menon Sen

Ranjana Padhi

Dr Nisha Biswas

Basudev Mahapatra