March 6: Biju Kalita, 30, of Patarkuchi suffers from a skin disease. Dulal Saikia, 75, of Trinayan Nagar suffers from asthma. Both blame their plight on coal depots in their areas.
The residents of Patarkuchi, Trinayan Nagar, Naupara, Krishnagar, Milanpur, Shivanagar, Bakhrapara and Beltola near Basistha Chariali said they were having a harrowing time because of an increasing number of coal depots in those areas.
We have moved the authorities concerned to remove the depots, but to no avail. Instead, their number has only grown, said Sanjeev Sarma, a resident of Trinayan Nagar, who remains constantly exposed to coal dust.
The Trinayan Mahila Samiti has many a time approached the state pollution control board and GMC over this issue, but is yet to get the grievance redressed.
The residents claim there are around 20 such coal depots in these areas that are affecting the health of about 15,000 families. They even alleged that the member of the Assembly from Dispur constituency is also involved in the trade.
We do not feel like staying in this area because of the presence of these depots. It gives us a sense of residing in an industrial area rather than in a city. People here are prone to various diseases like jaundice, cholera and skin and respiratory diseases. All our efforts to clear these areas from the hazardous depots have so far gone in vain, said Nirupama Das, a member of Trinayan Mahila Samiti.
Echoing her Arati Sakia of Triyanan Nagar said: I have been living here for the past 30 years. Despite repeated complaints, the authority concerned has never taken any measure. My husband is suffering from asthma and his condition is deteriorating because of exposure to coal dust.
Deepali Medhi Baishya, a resident of Patarkuchi, said: It is not only polluting the environment but also contaminating the sources of water.
Asked why no action has been taken by the Pollution Control Board, member secretary Himanta Gogoi said: The board is not involved as far as issuing licences are concerned because there is no manufacturing or processing work in these depots. If there is still any issue of pollution, we can certainly conduct a survey and submit a report to the district administration and the GMC.
Kankana Dutta Phukan, a medical practitioner, said constant exposure to coal dust could lead to interspatial lung diseases such as pneuconisis (black lung), chronic bronchial infection. In certain cases, there are also high risks of lung cancer.
GMC commissioner Puru Gupta said, We will take action on specific complaints.