No 'normal' kids in this Punjab belt

FEROZEPUR: The Malwa region of Punjab, once referred to as ‘Makheon meetha Malwa’ (sweeter than honey) for its rich agricultural produce and cotton farming, is today battling environment-related health problems, including a noticeable rise in neurological diseases, cancer cases, kidney ailments and infertility as a result of multiple environmental toxicity.

Twelve-year-old Raj (name changed) and his younger brother Suraj (name changed) of Khubban village of Abohar sub-division, have been suffering from neurological disorders since birth. A high concentration of heavy metals and radioactive substances found present in their bodies during medical tests in international laboratories has given a strong indication that they could die any time as toxicity has drastically reduced their life spans. Six-year-old Meet Sheru of of village Wan in Ferozepur is like any other child of his age, except for grey hair, a sign of pre-mature aging.

But, he is not alone in this agony as about 12 other kids in the area are suffering premature aging. During a visit to number of villages including Teja Rohila, Dona Nanka, Khubban and Wan, it was observed that after cancer now neurological disorders, arthritis and skeletal fluorosis are fast becoming major health problems in Malwa region.

Villagers in Teja Rohila and Dona Nanka have large number of people with stunted growth. Most of these show a remarkable lack of development in height, weight and physical structure.