With cancer spreading its tentacles beyond Malwa region of the state, a village in Nawanshahr district is under the grip of the deadly disease.
As many as nine deaths have been reported at Tonsa village, situated on the Nawanshahr-Ropar district border, in the past three months due to cancer, three of them last month only.
Local residents blame the pollutants discharged from industries located nearby for the crisis. The residents also accused the district administration and state government of not making any effort to provide them clean driving water.
Tonsa village sarpanch Master Krishan Kumar (63) said, “Around 10-15 per cent of population in our village could be suffering from deadly disease. Drinking water has become filthier and it smells very badly. Several residents of the village may anytime soon due to the disease.”
Water purifiers also go out of order due to high toxic level in the groundwater and no such survey has been conducted at the village in this connection, he added.
The sarpanch claimed that the effluents discharged by nearby industries pollute the groundwater to the extent that it turns yellowish in a few minutes.
He said the samples collected by the district administration have also been declared non-potable due to excessive contamination in water.
Former sarpanch of the village, Dharam Pal Kataria, whose elder brother Gurmel Chand Kataria (62) died due to cancer on Tuesday, said the government should immediately take notice of the problem in the village.
Kataria, who has held several agitations along with the local residents against the industrial pollution, said the government should arrange free treatment for cancer patients.
Not only this, Boothgarh, Chandiani Khurd, Jhandupoor and Railmajra villages too have several cancer patients.
Deputy commissioner Anindita Mitra said, “Yes, there were reports of contamination of drinking water at Tonsa. Action was also taken after we got the results of water samples taken by the water and sanitation department.”
“I will ask the officials concerned to hold a cancer-screening camp at the village. We will try to ascertain the exact number of people suffering from the disease at the village through a survey and enroll them under the Mukh Mantri Punjab Cancer Raahat Kosh Scheme,” Mitra added.
Civil surgeon Dharam Pal said, “We do not have the exact figure on cancer patients at Tonsa village at present.”
In the month-long statewide survey from December 1, 2013, to January 1, 2014, shocking figures had come to the fore in the district since it was found that 500 people suffered from cancer in last five years.
As many as 540 people lost their lives due to the deadly disease and 1,230 suspected cases of cancer were also detected during the survey.
As per the data collected from the health department, as many as 114 cancer patients were registered till November 15 this year with the health department and this time the number may cross 128, the last year figure.