Tata FAQ #8: Isn’t it dangerous for people to continue living in the communities affected by ground water contamination?

Indeed it is a dangerous place to live on and if there were options people would have moved out particularly after finding out about the chemicals and their effects. Majority of the residents of these communities are among the poorest in the city and have settled in these communities because they could not afford to pay rent or buy a piece of land somewhere in the city. For their livelihood they need to stay close to the city where they sell their labour. The city has an abysmal record of relocation. In early 90’s , as part of “city beautification” plans, 2,500 survivors from communities such as Fatehgarh, Shahid Nagar, Retghat were relocated to an area 17 kilometers from the city centre devoid of the most basic facilities for health care, sanitation and transport. More recently in 2006, hundreds of families were moved due to railway’s expansion plans to a place close to the municipal dump more than 12 kilometers away from the city where people have to walk 3 kilometers to get any water.
Of course if people have access to adequate supply of safe water for their everyday needs, if hazardous sites such as the factory premises and the landfill are made inaccessible and chemical wastes exposed to the elements are contained in a safe manner the dangers can be limited in a very significant way.
While supply of water is still much short of the requirement, the improvement in this regard has been significant in the last couple months. Storage tanks in different communities are being connected to piped water supply and a 4 million USD project for supply of water to the entire contamination affected population is underway. The MP High Court has directed the state government to ensure containment of exposed chemical waste and making hazardous locations inaccessible for animals and people. The state government remains to implement this order.

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