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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Malwa cancer on Aamir agenda

Harjinder Sidhu, Hindustan Times  Bathinda, June 24, 2012
First Published: 12:24 IST(24/6/2012) | Last Updated: 12:28 IST(24/6/2012)

Millions watching, the spotlight will squarely be on Punjab's Malwa region this Sunday as actor Aamir Khan takes up the issue of pesticide-ravaged soil and the cancer-hit villages of the belt in his show  'Satyamev Jayate'.

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In a recent promo, Aamir hinted that the next episode would be themed around food. Sources in the field told HT that he would analyse the food chain of Malwa, which has been badly affected by the excessive use of chemicals in farming. These chemicals have repeatedly been blamed for cancer growing to gigantic proportions in the region.  

The production team of 'Satyamev Jayate' visited several villages of Malwa during the past month, and also travelled on the Abohar-Jodhpur passenger train that has been dubbed 'Cancer Express' as it routinely carries a large number of patients from the cotton belt of Punjab for treatment at the Acharya Tulsi Regional Cancer Institute in Bikaner.

The team also interviewed activist Master Jarnail Singh in Jajjal village. Jarnail has been vocal in his claim that pesticides are to blame for the high rate of cancer. Some members of a parliamentary committee also visited Jajjal recently.

However, Aamir's show, which airs on Star Plus and also on Doordarshan and All India Radio, would not just concentrate on the dark side. His team met women of Chaina village in Faridkot who have taken an initiative under the umbrella of NGO Kheti  Virasat Mission (KVM) to grow seasonal organic vegetables without using pesticides or chemical fertilisers.

Govt lied to NHRC, alleges NGO
Bathinda: Pro-organic farming NGO Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM) has accused the Punjab government of lying to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). "The health department told NHRC that it has banned pesticides causing cancer. No such ban exists," said Umendra Dutt, executive director, KVM. "Taking suo motu notice of media reports about high prevalence of cancer in Malwa region, the NHRC had issued a notice to the Punjab chief secretary last year. On February 27, 2012, the principal secretary (health), in his report to the NHRC, accepted that the consumption of pesticides was high in Malwa. He said farmers were being trained on judicious use even as some dangerous pesticides have been banned."

The KVM has demanded that the chief minister and the health minister take appropriate steps "to rectify the mistake" done by health and agriculture departments in implementing NHRC orders, "and must take action against those responsible for giving wrong information to the NHRC".

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