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An assessment of environmental impact of coalmines on the local inhabitants: a case study of North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita, Assam.
Article Type:
Report
Subject:
Coal mining (Environmental aspects)
Coal mining (Health aspects)
Authors:
Sahoo, Dukhabandhu
Bhattacharjee, Anamika
Pub Date:
12/01/2010
Publication:
Name: Indian Journal of Economics and Business Publisher: Indian Journal of Economics and Business Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business; Economics Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Indian Journal of Economics and Business ISSN: 0972-5784
Issue:
Date: Dec, 2010 Source Volume: 9 Source Issue: 4
Product:
SIC Code: 1221 Bituminous coal and lignite--surface; 1222 Bituminous coal--underground; 1231 Anthracite mining
Geographic:
Geographic Scope: India Geographic Name: Assam, India; Assam, India; Assam, India Geographic Code: 9INDI India

Accession Number:
248092327
Full Text:
Abstract

The present study attempted to explore the health condition and health awareness among the local inhabitants residing near the coalmine areas of North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita, Assam in the light of a micro-level study conducted with the help of a pre-designed interview schedule through door-to-door survey and personal interviews which is supported by secondary database. The study revealed that due to lack of awareness and negligence on the causes and the impacts of environmental pollution the local inhabitants residing near the collieries make them susceptible to severe health hazards.

I. INTRODUCTION

Coal industry is one of the core industries which played an important role in the industrial development of almost all the countries in the world. In other words, we can say that, industrial development of any country in the world has not taken place without the use of coal or any fossil fuel. Coal industry is recognized as one of the bedrock of industrial sector as they provide the basic material for the most of the industries. It has the highest forward linkages effect with steel, cement, fertilizers, electric, power and a number of other industries. Coal mining is one of the core industries, which contributes to the economic development of a country and undoubtedly brings wealth and employment opportunity in the area. But simultaneously leads to extensive environmental degradation, which, in turn, has an adverse and hazardous impact on the health condition of the workers working in the coalmines as well as the people residing near the collieries.

Mining operations frequently involve a high degree of environmental impacts, which can extend well beyond the extent of mineralized areas. An assessment of the environmental and health impact of the operation of coalmines has become essential and pre-requisite over the years. The environmental consent associated with industries especially fossil fuels are serious and development planners cannot ignore this fact. The CSE's study on mining, people and environment (2006) pointed out that mining cannot be sustainable or truly environment-friendly. This is because ore bodies are finite and non-renewable and even the best managed mines leave "environmental footprints". Mining leads to severe and extensive deterioration of the environment and thereby resulting in an adverse and hazardous impacts on the health of the people-both workers of coalmines as well as the people residing near the coalmine areas.

Studies on environmental impacts of coalmines revealed that the total dissolved solids, sulphate, hardness & iron contents leached in the rivers from the coalmines results in acid mine drainage problem leading to underground and surface water contamination which are highly toxic and injurious to health (Singh, 1987; Tiwari and Dhar, 1994; Tiwari, 2001; Swer and Singh, 2003). Air pollution caused by the emission of suspended particulate matter (SPM), respirable particulate matter (RPM), Sulphur dioxide (S[O.sub.2]) and oxides of nitrogen (N[O.sub.x]) due to the operation of coalmines results in severe health hazards to the exposed population (Pandey, 2000; Ghosh & Majee, 2003; Ghosh & Majee, 2007). The environmental problems associated with coal, before mining, during mining, in storage, during combustion and post combustion waste products results in severe impact on the human health (Finkelman et al, 2002). First affected persons for opening or closing of any type of industries are the local people. Thus it is prerequisite to have a detailed study of the environmental impact of the industries and their impacts on the local inhabitants. The present study attempted to explore the health condition and health awareness among the local inhabitants residing near the coalmine areas of North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita, Assam in the light of a micro-level study conducted with the help of a pre-designed interview schedule through door-to-door survey and personal interviews.

This objective of the paper is to evaluate the health condition and health awareness among the inhabitants of the coal mine areas in Margherita in Tinsukia district of Assam. The specific objectives of the study are: a) To explore the health condition of the local inhabitants residing near the coalmines; b) To explore the awareness among the people regarding the impact of coal mines on their health; and c) To suggest the strategy for policy measures both for the coalmine authority and for the government to improve the health condition of the people residing near the collieries. Rest of the paper is arranged in the following order. The coming section, present the sample design, data sources and methodology applied in this study. This is followed by a brief, review of literature on environmental health impacts of coal mines on local inhabitants. Section-4 reported the overview of the North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita, Assam. This is followed by health awareness of local inhabitants of the sample coalmine areas. Final section presents the conclusion.

II. SAMPLE DESIGN, DATA SOURCE AND ANALYTICAL TOOLS

The present study is based on both primary and secondary sources. The survey was conducted in two coalmine areas of North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita, Assam, namely, Borgolai (U/G coalmine) and Tikak (O/C coalmine). Primary data on health condition and health awareness among the sample households of the local inhabitants was collected with the help of pre-designed interview schedule through door-to-door survey and personal interviews. Secondary data are collected from various government documents and from the office of Chief General Manager, North Eastern Coalfields and registered books of Central Hospital, North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita.

For this study a total of 100 households are covered, 50 from underground coalmine area and 50 from opencast coalmine area. In order to elicit relevant informations from both the primary and secondary data various descriptive statistics like ratios, percentages and growth rates are applied. The health status of the local inhabitants is evaluated by examining the disease pattern among the local inhabitants and a comparison on the basis of level of education, pattern of occupation and status of location is carried out for examining the awareness among the local inhabitants regarding pollutants emitted and diseases caused. Chi-square test is conducted for the study.

III. REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Coal, like any other minerals, while mining (either by opencast or underground method) disturbs earth's surface thereby affecting the surrounding environment. First affected persons for opening or closing of any type of industries are the local people. Thus it is prerequisite to have a detailed study of the environmental impact of the industries and their impacts on the local inhabitants. There is quite extensive literature on the environmental impact assessment of coal mines. But not many studies are available on environmental impact of coalmines on health condition of the local inhabitants residing near the coalmine areas, particularly for Assam.

Singh (1987) made an extensive study on the mine water quality deterioration due to acid mine drainage in North Eastern Coalfields of India. The study revealed that the water in this area is severely polluted due to the effluents emanated from various collieries which are highly acidic in character and contains high hardness, sulphate and total dissolved solids and irons coupled with low pH values--further resulting in contamination of trace (heavy) metals at significant levels which are highly toxic and injurious to health. On the basis of the analysis of mine water samples collected from various sumps of Ledo, Borgoloi, Jeypore and Tipong collieries the study concluded that the water of the region is severely polluted.

Finkelman et al. (2002) made an attempt to discuss the environmental problems associated with coal, before mining, during mining, in storage, during combustion and post combustion waste products and its severe impact on the human health. On the basis of their findings, they maintained that as groundwater passes through lignite it leaches toxic organic compounds. These organics are then ingested by local inhabitants contributing to serious health problems. The study reveals that human disease associated with coalmining mainly results from inhalation of particulate matters generated during the mining process.

Tiwary (2001) made an analysis of the environmental impact of coalmining on water regime and its management. The study attempted to illustrate the quality of acidic and non-acidic mine water and leachate characteristics of opencast coalmining overburden dumps. The study revealed that the pollutants such as Total Suspended Solids (TSS), Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), oil, grease and heavy metals found in the coal mining waste effluents leaches with the groundwater and thereby results in acid mine drainage. This, in turn, leads to water quality deterioration. The study emphasized the need for proper management of the liquid wastes at both primary and secondary level in order to control the pollution at the source.

Pandey (2000) classified coal as the most dubious dirtiest fuels among the fossil fuels on account of the environmental damages and pollution problems caused during mining, processing, end use and waste disposal of coal. The study reveals that high levels of suspended particulate matter lead to severe respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis and asthma. It also reveals the fact that while gaseous emissions contribute to global warming inhalation of SPM results in health hazards to the exposed population. The study emphasized the need for environmental impact assessment (EIA) report and environmental management plan (EMP) to be prepared by the project proponents in order to mitigate the problem.

Ghosh and Majee (2000) in their paper made an attempt to assess the air pollution caused by the generation of dust due to the operation of opencast (O/C) coalmines. On the basis of emission factor data the study tried to quantify the generation of dust in the opencast coalmine area and emphasized that increasing trend of open cast mining leads to production of huge quantities of dust and thereby cause air pollution in the work zone and surrounding locations. The study identified top soil removal, overburden (O/B) removal, extraction of coal etc. as the main source of air pollution. The paper also emphasized the need for considering air pollution as one of the most important parameters in preparing an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

On the basis of numerous fieldwork campaigns done in between 2002-05 through regular investigations Kuenzer et al.. (2006) in their paper introduced the problem of coal fires and their environmental impacts such as atmospheric influences, land subsidence, landscape degradation, water quality deterioration and danger for human health referring to two coal fields in North Central China. On the basis of the findings the study emphasized the need for a holistic approach to detect, monitor, quantify and finally extinguish the coal fires and recognized the need for undertaking the approach in numerous national and multilateral projects.

A research brief produced by Yang (2007) analyzed the impact of coal mining on the environment and health of China. The paper focused on the serious environmental and public health problems caused by the pollution created by both burning and mining of coal and has shown serious concern that it may nullify much of China's GDP growth. The study revealed that out of the total small coalmines 80% small mines are the major source of environmental, safety and public health problems. This is due to the fact that besides having old equipment, few Chinese mines use mechanized excavation and investments in scientific research and miner training are quite low. Moreover, enforcement of laws to limit these problems is weak and mines are thus not pushed to internalize the costs of their production. Currently, mining areas are olden exploited by several companies leading to overexploitation, which causes frequent accidents, excessive pollution and resource waste. The study revealed that, besides air pollution, degradation of water and land are growing environmental effects in China. It also highlighted the fact that about 70 per cent of the people killed in coal mine accidents in 2003 worked in small coal mines. By the end of 2008, the government is requiring that one mine can only be exploited by one company in order to reduce the accident rate and control mining pollution.

Das (2007) in his paper tried to trace the shape of contemporary political economy surrounding the mining communities and the discourse on cultural and identity crisis among the indigenous tribal communities of Meghalaya. The case study is based on the project that followed the trials and tribulations of a handful of small informal coal mining communities in the state of Meghalaya. The paper challenged the conventional view, using a handful of small indigenous coal mining highlander communities of Meghalaya as a proof, that these populations make up a socially complex and vibrant ethnoscape. The study revealed that the enactment of the sixth schedule of the Indian Constitution recognized indigenous communities of Meghalaya as the rightful owners of the coal reserves in the state giving them direct control of management of coal exploration and extraction, selling of coal in the local markets and exporting across India and thereby upgraded the economic condition and standard of living of the people. But at the same time, the use of environmentally irresponsible and dangerous practices of the owners in an effort to optimize output at a minimal cost resulted in devastating impact on the environment leading to land subsidence, contamination of underground water and harmful impact on health of the surrounding people, etc.

An attempt to underline the socio-economic profile and quality of life index of the people residing around mining areas of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd. at Talcher and Ib valley coalmines in Orissa was made by Mishra et al. in 2008. In the light of the surveys conducted in the proposed mining areas through questionnaire method and secondary data the paper aimed at analyzing the living conditions, socio-economic profile of the people of core and buffer regions, and level of socio-economic development of the region. At the same time, on the basis of objective and subjective approaches, it focused on assessing the quality of life index for different villages by considering various parameters. The study revealed that the quality of life of the people, considered for the study, were poor and stressed that mining projects should ensure improved quality of life; improvise social, environmental and health impacts of mining; create beneficial impact of coalmines for the local communities; fulfill implications of resource demand of mining visa vis the rights and needs of the people.

A review of the impact of mining on the industrial development and environment of the Jharkhand was made by Singh and Kumar in (2001) on the basis of secondary database. The paper focused on the unlimited mining and industrial activities witnessed by Jharkhand which has led to the serious degradation of all the components of the environment and adversely affected the social, demographic and health aspect of the inhabitants. The study pinpointed the complex environmental matrix, and ever depleting environmental quality along with flora and fauna in the state due to the lack of effective implementation of mining and reclamation policies, urban planning and industrial sitting policies by the concerned regulatory authorities. Paper stressed on the need for the implementation of a well integrated, planned and environmentally benign approach for the mining and industrial activities in the region for economically beneficial and sustainable development through continuous monitoring and taking effective mitigative measures in a timely manner. Paper suggested that "Planned development is essential not only for fulfilling the aspirations of the people for a sustainable source of livelihood but also for protecting the resource base and enhancing the environmental quality in the region".

From the above review of literature, it is quite apparent that there is hardly any study that intensively or extensively tries to explore the health condition and health awareness among the local inhabitants residing near the coal mine areas in Assam. This leaves a big vacuity in the literature which is quite extensive in coverage, but lacks the intensity. The present study will try to fill this gap. At this juncture, it is pertinent to ask the researchable questions like what is the existing health condition of the local inhabitants of coalmine areas of Assam. Are they aware of the programme of the concerned industry and the governments? Has the socio-economic and cultural background of the local inhabitants to do anything about their awareness regarding the availability and/or lack of it? What policy measures need to be implemented to improve the health condition and awareness among the inhabitants residing near the collieries? These research questions need to be addressed adequately as they have a bearing not only on the local inhabitants but also on the existence and the growth of coalmine industry. The present study tries to address these questions intensively.

IV. OVERVIEW OF NORTH EASTERN COALFIELDS, MARGHERITA

North Eastern Coalfield is located in the lush green canopy of Margherita subdivision, Tinsukia district, Assam, in the North Eastern corner of India and carries out its coal mining activities in Makuta coalfields of Assam. It is bound by two major thrusts-Margherita thrust in the north and Halflong Disang thrust in the south. Many rivulets flowing through the valley cut across the coalfield. Coal mining activities of North Eastern Coalfields, Coal India Limited are at present confined to Makum Coalfield in Tinsukia district of Assam. North Eastern Coalfields with its local head office at Margherita is running five coalmines viz. Borgolai (U/G), Tipong (U/G), Ledo (U/G), Tirap (O/C) and Tikak (O/C) in Assam. The Coalfield covered an area of 2586 Hectares. The highest size of area is covered by Tipong Coalmine i.e. 1158 Hectares followed by Borgolal 488 Hectares, Ledo 436 Hectares, Tirap 358 hectares and Tikak the lowest size of area comprising of 146 Hectares. Borgolai coalmiae is one of the oldest underground mines operating under the Makuta Coalfields of North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita, Assam. The Tirap and Tikak opencast mines are at present the only coal producing opencast mines in Makuta Coalfields of North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita, Assam. The projectised balance mineable reserves at Tirap OC mine would last for another 3-4 years at the current rate of production. Thus the Tirap OC mine is nearing its closure. Tikak OC mine would be the only OC mine producing coal at the rate of 1.20-1.25 lakh tonne per annum for another 12-15 years.

Table 1 shows the colliery-wise and year wise production of coal from 2003-04 to 2007-08 in North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita, Assam. The table reveals a downward trend in the production of coals from underground coalmines over the years and production from opencast coalmines has increased over the years.

It is evident from the table that the production of coals from the underground mines decreased from 122549 tonnes in 2003-04 to 93738 tonnes in 2007-08. In cases of opencast mines the total production increased from 610585 tonnes in 2003-04 to 1006982 tonnes in 2007-08.

Like any other industries North Eastern Coalfields also maintains and estimates its budget for coming year for different sectors and then spends in different fields viz. in production process, wages, medical, education, etc accordingly. Table 2 shows the share of total budget in the medical expenditure in North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita, Assam. The North Eastern Coalfields is operating its production of coal in the Makuta Coalfields of Margherita area, Assam. It estimated its budget for every financial year and estimated its expenditure in all sectors and according to this the coalmine officials allocates its amounts. From the table 2 it is seen that the budget share for medical expenditure in the financial year 2005-06 was Rs 168.97 Lakh which increased to Rs 204.66 Lakh in the year 2006-07, and further increased to Rs 210.25 Lakh in 2007-08. The table reveals a marginal increase in the expenditure on health over the years. So far as expenditure on health per worker is concerned, the expenditure per worker increased from Rs 4800 in the year 2005-06 to Rs 6000 in 2006-07 and further to Rs 6500 in the year 2007-08.

Thus from the table, it was found that expenditure on medical is increasing but only marginally as compared to the previous years. But with the increasing demand in the modern society, coalmine authority should increase its share on medical facilities. Further we can explain from the table that though total budget in the coalmine has been increased, the expenditure on medical is not increasing. Thus the coalmine authority is not interested in improving medical facilities to be provided to the workers nor do they want to improve bad condition regarding the health care facilities of the coalmine areas.

IV.I. Health Care Services in North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita, Assam

In North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita there is one central hospital to protect the health condition of the people especially the coalmine workers and their dependents. This hospital covers five coalmine areas operating under Makuta Coalfields. The central hospital was established in 1950s and it caters the health care needs of the coalmine employees as well as their dependents, which are referred by the doctor of dispensary of the respective coalmine areas. Health care facilities of the hospital like existence of hospitals, availability of health personnel and infrastructural facilities are shown in the Table 3.

In the hospital there are two wards, one for male and other for female patients. There are fifteen doctors and one emergency doctor. There are seventeen nurses, four pharmacists, two X-ray technicians, three laboratory staffs, twenty aayas (female attendants), one helper and twenty sweepers. As far as the infrastructural facilities are concerned, there are two ambulances, eighty-four beds and one operation theatre in the Central Hospital, North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita.

However, these facilities are available but, modernized medical equipments required for better treatment are not available in the hospital. The patients suffering from serious diseases are referred to Assam Medical College Hospital, Dibrugarh because of the lack of these equipments. However, the expenditure required for the treatment of the coalmine employees and their dependents are given by the North Eastern Coalfields. Apart from the patients consisting of the employees of North Eastern Coalfields and their dependents, a large number of out-patients from near the Margherita area are also registered in the central hospital. This is mainly due to the lack of better medical facilities in the Margherita region. Table 4 depicts the total numbers of registered patients in the Central Hospital, North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita. Table 4 reveals that the number of registered patients increased over the years with some marginal fluctuations. It is evident from the table that the number of registered patients increased from 16,416 in 2003-04 to 16,840 in 2004-05. In 2005-06 the number of registered patients decreased marginally to 16,742 and further increased to 16,917 in 2006-07. In 2007-08 the registered patients accounted for 16,552 in numbers. So far as the year 2008-09 is concerned the number of registered patients accounted for 61,400 till the month of February which will definitely go up by the end of the year which is a matter of great concern for the authorities.

IV.II. Disease Pattern of North Eastern Coalfields

Coalmines have long been associated with high level of risk of their workforce from hazardous wastes. Some of the most common mining-environment related diseases are black lung disorder, tuberculosis; noise induced hearing loss, irritation to eyes, pneumoconiosis, etc. But in case of North Eastern Coalfields there is a different disease pattern. In order to find out the disease pattern of the concerned coalfield a consultation with the doctors of the Central Hospital, North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita was made. As per the consultation, the major diseases occurring in the coalmine areas of the North Eastern Coalfields were categorized. This includes:

* Backache: The main reason cited by the doctor for backache was the difficult mining conditions like bending down positions where underground mine workers have to travel and work.

* Dust related diseases: It includes chronic bronchial asthma and severe asthmatic bronchitis. The main reason behind the occurrences of these dust related diseases are large scale dust generation in the mining and nearby areas, generation of oxides of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide, particulate matters etc. So far as Pneumoconiosis (black lung disorder) is concerned, only one case is reported in the last five years. It reflects the good and efficient practices of coalmines under NECL.

* Water borne diseases: In the region water contains high iron and sulphur contents which results in frequent attacks of gastroenteritis in the mining areas. There are also reported cases of skin infections and ulcers.

* Tuberculosis: NECL has a high incidences of pulmonary tuberculosis which is compounded by high poor living conditions, illiteracy, alcoholism and irregular intake of medicines even though they are provide free of cost by the Government.

It is apparent that all these diseases are related to effluents generation associated with the operation of coalmines in a particular area. The major effluents generated from the coal industry are- Sulphur Dioxide (S[O.sub.2]), Oxides of Nitrogen (N[O.sub.x]), Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM), Respirable Particulate Matter (RPM), Oxides of Carbon (C[O.sub.x]), hydrogen and [H-.sub.2]S[O.sub.4] which results in the contamination of the air and water quality of the nearby areas leading to severe health hazards. Table 5 shows the various effluents generated and their impact on the health.

A location-wise trend of disease pattern over a period of five years (i.e. from 2004-08) occurring in the sample coalmine areas is shown in Table 6 below. It can be observed from table 6 that there is relatively high incidence of water borne disease i.e. gastroenteritis in all the years followed by air borne diseases i.e. bronchitis and asthma, tuberculosis and skin infections and ulcers.

This study analyzed the health condition of the local inhabitants based on the comparison of the disease pattern among the family members of the sample households on the basis of their occupational pattern and location wise distribution. To test the significance of the occurrence of the reported diseases among the family members of the sample households Chi-square ([chi square]) test is carried out. If the calculated value of [/.sup.2] test for the occurrence of a particular disease is higher than the critical value of [/.sup.2] than we accept that the occurrence of the particular disease is significant among the family members of the sample households of the sample coalmine areas and vice-versa. Table 7 shows the disease pattern among the sample households of Borgolai and Tikak.

It is clear from the table that out of the total population of 488 in the sample households 407 persons constituting nearly 83.40 per cent of the total population are suffering from the diseases as mentioned by the doctors of Central Hospital, North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita and rest i.e. 81 persons constituting nearly 16.60 per cent of the total population are free from these sufferance. High occurrence of waterborne diseases like gastroenteritis (44.72% of the total suffering population) and skin infections (30.96% of the total suffering persons) followed by air and dust borne diseases like Asthma(12.78%) and Bronchitis (4.91%) and Tuberculosis accounting for 6.63 per cent of the total suffering persons is evident from the table.

As it is observed from table 7, [chi square] value ([chi square] = 404.69, d.f. 181) of occurrence of gastroenteritis is greater than the critical value of [chi square] at 1% level of significance. Thus we can conclude that there is a significant preponderance of gastroenteritis. Similarly, for the occurrence of skin infection also [chi square] ([chi square] = 193.49, d.f. 125) value is greater than the critical value of [chi square] at 1% level of significance. So we can infer that there is significant prevalence of skin infection also among the sample households. [chi square] value for the occurrence of Asthma ([chi square] = 32.58, d.f. 51); Tuberculosis ([chi square] = 8.62, d.f. 26) and occurrence of Bronchitis ([chi square] = 4.67, d.f. 19) are smaller than the critical value of [chi square]. It reflects that the occurrence of asthma tuberculosis and bronchitis are not significant among the sample households residing near Borgolai and Tikak collieries of North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita.

It is a general belief that coalmine workers are prone to severe diseases due to hazardous working conditions. But, instead of this fact, local people are also affected in terms of resource productivity loss and severe environmental menace posed on their health etc. An occupation-wise comparison of the disease pattern among the family members of sample households of Borgolai and Tikak is manipulated in Table 8 which reveals high incidence of diseases among non-employees and unemployed (i.e. 72.73% of the total persons suffering from diseases) than that of North Eastern Coalfield (NECL) employees (i.e. 27.27% of the total persons suffering from diseases), which indicates that there is pollution in the coal mine areas of North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita.

It is clear from the Table 8 that there is high incidence of gastroenteritis among the people irrespective of their occupational pattern constituting 48.65 per cent employees and 43.24 per cent combination of non-employees and unemployed. Occupation-wise disease pattern shows a varying trend. While there is high incidence of asthma among the employees comprising of 27.93 per cent of the employees suffering from diseases than that of non-employees and unemployed comprising of 7.09 per cent of the combination of non-employees and unemployed suffering from diseases. On the other hand there is high incidence of skin infection among the combination of non-NECL employees and unemployed comprising of 38.51 per cent of the combination of non-employees and unemployed suffering from diseases than that of employees comprising of 10.81 per cent of the employees suffering from diseases. So far as occurrence of tuberculosis and bronchitis is concerned more employees are suffered than that of combination of non-NECL employees and unemployed.

As it is observed from the table, [chi square] ([chi square] = 128.92, d.f. 53) value of occurrence of gastroenteritis among employees and [chi square] ([chi square] = 274.59, d.f. 127) value of occurrence of gastroenteritis among the combination of non employees and unemployed are greater than the critical value of [chi square] at 1% level of significance. So we can say that the occurrence of gastroenteritis is significantly higher irrespective of occupational status. So far as skin infection is concerned, [chi square] ([chi square] = 217.6, d.f. 113) value for the occurrence among the combination of non-employees and unemployed is greater than the critical value of [chi square] at 1% level of significance. So it is clear that the incidence of skin infection is significantly high among the combination of non-employees and unemployed. The occurrence of skin infection among the NECL employees is insignificant as the [chi square] ([chi square] = 5.95, d.f. 11) value for the occurrence of skin infection among the employees of NECL is smaller than the critical value of [chi square]. It is also evident from the table that the [chi square] ([chi square] = 42.89, d.f. 30) value of occurrence of asthma among the employees is higher than the critical value of the [chi square] at 10% level of significance so we can assert that the employees are more prone to asthma than the non-employees and unemployed. It is also evident from the table that the occurrences of tuberculosis and bronchitis are insignificant among the NECL employees as well as among the combination of non-NECL employees and unemployed.

A comparison of the disease pattern among the surveyed sample households according to the location of the coalmine area is shown in Table 9 below.

The table reveals higher occurrence of diseases in the underground coalmine area i.e. Borgolai where the persons suffering from the diseases constituted 53.56 per cent of the total surveyed persons suffering from diseases. In Tikak persons suffering from the diseases constituted 46.44 per cent of the total surveyed persons suffering from diseases. It is apparent from the table that there is high incidence of gastroenteritis among the people irrespective of the location of the sample households constituting 39.91 per cent in Borgolai and 50.26 per cent in Tikak. Location-wise disease pattern is more or less similar in the two coalmine areas. The incidence of skin infection among the residents of Borgolai accounted for 30.73 per cent of the surveyed households suffering from diseases and in Tikak it accounted for 31.22 per cent of the surveyed households suffering from diseases. On the other hand, the incidence of asthma among the inhabitants of Borgolai accounted for 14.22 and that of 11.11 per cent in Tikak. So far as occurrence of tuberculosis and bronchitis is concerned 8.72 per cent and 6.42 per cent of the sample households respectively were found to be suffering in Borgolai. In Tikak, however, 4.23 per cent and 3.17 per cent of the people suffering from diseases were reported to have tuberculosis and bronchitis respectively.

As it is observed from the table, [chi square] ([chi square] = 171.61, d.f. 86) value of occurrence of gastroenteritis among the residents of Borgolai and [chi square] ([chi square] = 236.24, d.f. 94) value of occurrence of gastroenteritis among the residents of Tikak are greater than the critical value of [chi square] at 1% level of significance. So we can say that the occurrence of gastroenteritis is significantly higher irrespective of location pattern. So far as skin infection is concerned, [chi square] ([chi square] = 101.42, d.f. 66) value for the occurrence among the residents of Borgolai and the [chi square] ([chi square] = 90.53, d.f. 58) value for the occurrence of skin infection among the inhabitants of Tikak is greater than the critical value of [chi square] at 1% level of significance. So it is clear that the incidence of skin infection is also significantly high among the local inhabitants irrespective of their place of residence. It is also evident from the table that the occurrences of tuberculosis, asthma and bronchitis are insignificant among the residents of Borgolai as well as among the residents of Tikak. As the [chi square] value for the occurrences of tuberculosis ([chi square] = 7.84, d.f. 18) among residents of Borgolai and [chi square] ([chi square] = 1.48, d.f. 7) value for the occurrences of tuberculosis among the inhabitants of Tikak; [chi square] value for the occurrences of bronchitis ([chi square] = 4.17, d.f. 13) among residents of Borgolai and ([chi square] = 0.79, d.f. 5 among the residents of Tikak) and asthma ([chi square] = 21.33, d.f. 30 among Borgolai residents and [chi square] = 11.11, d.f. 20 among the residents of Tikak) is smaller than the critical value of [chi square]. So we can conclude that there is no significant incidence of tuberculosis, bronchitis and asthma in the sample coalmine areas i.e. Borgolai and Tikak.

Thus, from the above discussion it is clear that the local inhabitants of the sample coalmine areas are suffering from environmental diseases mainly the water borne diseases such as gastroenteritis and skin infections.

V. HEALTH AWARENESS OF LOCAL INHABITANTS OF THE SAMPLE COALMINE AREAS

The responsibility to lead a healthy life is vested upon the people themselves along with the initiatives taken by the respective governments. In order to uplift the health condition, awareness about various health promoting programmes launched by the government is very necessary. But only launching of a programme cannot safeguard the people from health related sufferings unless they are aware of those programmes. Hand washing practices are as important from a disease reduction perspective as are use of safe drinking water or use of hygienic toilet and proper sanitation facilities. Awareness regarding purification of water quality by boiling is essential for all. Nevertheless only a few inhabitants of the sample coalmine areas accounting for 9 per cent of the total households boil water before drinking.

V.I. Awareness Regarding Pollution

The survey reveals that 100 per cent of the sample households are aware about the potential pollution problems of the mining projects. However, the people are poorly informed about the causes and the impacts of environmental pollution and they do not have much knowledge about the measures to be taken in case of sudden enhancement of the pollution level due to some accident or otherwise. In the sample coalmine areas all the respondents replied positively that there is pollution i.e. both air pollution and water pollution in the region.

Though, the coalmine authorities undertake various measures to tackle the problem of pollution in the coalmine areas but time and again people have to face severe consequences. The major initiatives taken by the authorities in this regard are plantation of trees, supply of purified water, etc. Though the plantation of trees have been taken as an initiative by the authorities but due to the negligence and lack of participation of the local inhabitants the initiatives become fruitless.

V.II. Awareness Regarding Pollutants Emitted from the Colliery

The major pollutants emitted by the collieries are sulphur dioxide (S[O.sub.2]), oxides of nitrogen (N[O.sub.x]), suspended particulate matter (SPM), respirable particulate matter (RPM) etc. which when comes with the contact of air and water pollutes them. Inhalation of these pollutants poses severe threats to the health of the people. Thus it is essential for the inhabitants residing near the collieries to have awareness about the emission of these pollutants.

The survey revealed that only few respondents of the sample households (roughly 53%) are aware about the pollutants emitted from the operating collieries of the respective location. In order to find out the awareness among the sample households regarding the release of the pollutants from the collieries comparisons were made on the basis of the highest level of education attained and occupational pattern of the sample households. Table 10 shows the relationship between the levels of education and awareness among the sample households regarding the emission of pollutants.

Table 10 reveals higher level of awareness regarding the pollutants emitted from the collieries among the households which is having higher level of education. Awareness about the pollutants emitted decreases with the decrease in the level of educational attainment. It can be observed from the table that the household having a higher level of education upto graduation level are more aware followed by the consecutive level of education in descending order. It is evident that out of the total households that are aware about the pollutants emitted from the collieries, 39.62 per cent were graduates followed by 28.30 per cent, 22.64 per cent and 9.43 per cent households having education attainment upto higher secondary level, secondary level and upper primary level respectively. Households having educational attainment upto lower primary level are not aware about the pollutants emitted from the collieries.

It is a general belief that the persons working in a particular industry are more aware about the pollutants emitted from the industry than that of those who are not working in that industry. A comparison of the sample households based on their occupational pattern and awareness about the pollutants emitted from the coalmines is

shown in Table 11. It can be observed from the table 11 that out of the total 53 aware households highest percentage of employees of North Eastern Coalfields (NECL) are aware about the pollutants emitted from the collieries than that of non-coalmine employees and unemployed.

The persual of Table 11 reveals that 81.13 per cent of the aware persons are NECL employees and rest 18.87 per cent are non employees and unemployed.

V.IIL Awareness about the Diseases Caused Due to the Emission of Pollutants from the Coalmines

As it is discussed earlier, that coalmine industry emits harmful pollutants which are very harmful to health. The coalmine workers as well as the inhabitants nearby the coalmines suffers from severe health related problems like gastroenteritis, asthma, tuberculosis, bronchitis and skin infections etc. So it is very essential for the local inhabitants residing near the coalmines to have awareness about these diseases so that they can take adequate measures to prevent the occurrences of these diseases.

In the sample coalmine areas, 52 per cent of the respondents of the surveyed households replied positively that they are aware of the various diseases that may occur due to the emission of pollutants from the collieries. Nevertheless, most of the households are unaware about the health hazards caused by the pollutants emitted from the collieries. Though, coalmine authorities provides them with free medical checkups and treatments along with medicines but due to lack of sophisticated equipments and trained health personnel the incidence of diseases are high in the sample coalmine areas. Due to lack of sufficient technology and equipments it becomes all the more difficult to detect some severe diseases related to environmental degradation. Lack of trained and skilled manpower potential makes the situation more adverse.

In order to find out the awareness among the sample households regarding the health hazards of the emission of pollutants from the collieries comparisons are made on the basis of the highest level of education attained and occupational pattern of the sample households. Table 12 shows the relationship between the levels of education and awareness about diseases among the sample households. Table reveals higher level of awareness regarding the diseases caused by the pollutants emitted from the collieries among the households having higher level of education. Awareness about the pollutants emitted and their impact on health decreases with the decrease in the level of educational attainment. It can be observed from the table that the household having a higher level of education upto graduation level are more aware followed by the consecutive level of education in descending order. It is also evident that out of the 52 households who are aware of the diseases related to the emission of pollutants from the coalmines, 36.54 per cent constitutes those who have completed their graduations followed by those who have attained education upto higher secondary level, secondary level, upper primary level and primary level constituting 30.77 per cent, 26.92 per cent, 3.85 per cent and 1.92 per cent of the total disease aware households respectively.

A comparison of the sample households based on their occupational pattern and awareness about the diseases caused by the pollutants emitted from the coalmines is shown in Table 13. It can be observed from the Table 13 that out of the total 52 aware households highest percentage of employees of North Eastern Coalfields (NECL) are aware about the diseases caused than that of non-coalmine employees and unemployed. Table reveals that NECL employees are more aware about the diseases occurring due the emission of the effluents from the coalmines accounting for 78.85 per cent of the total aware households than that of non NECL employees and unemployed which accounted for 21.15 per cent.

Apart from the awareness about the diseases related to the emission of effluents from the coalmines the surveyed households also reported about some unidentified discomfort feeling relating to health due to pollution. This unidentified discomfort includes hair falls, irritation of eyes, regular headache, etc. Among the surveyed households 96 per cent of the sample households reported about these unidentified discomfort feeling.

VI. CONCLUSION

Environmental quality is an important determinant of human health. Deteriorating environmental conditions are major contributory factors to poor health and quality of life that hinder sustainable development. The degree of economic development determines the type of environmental health hazards. It is necessary to have mechanism to establish linkages between environmental pollution & its health impact. The data available on the impact of environment on health is very scanty. There is a strong need for co-relating environmental data with morbidity and mortality that are the predictors of the disease burden. This helps the Planners, Policy makers and Executors to initiate appropriate action programs for prevention and control of this disease burden.

The present study assesses the environmental impact of coalmines on local inhabitants in terms of health condition and health awareness among the households residing near the coalmine areas of Borgolai and Tikak. It is revealed that health condition and health awareness among the inhabitants is poor. Due to lack of awareness and negligence regarding the causes and the impacts of environmental pollution and knowledge about the measures to be taken in case of sudden enhancement of the pollution level due to some accident or otherwise on the part of the local inhabitants residing near the collieries make them susceptible to severe health hazards like bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, acute gastroenteritis etc. Moreover, there are also incidences of deaths relating to environmental diseases like bronchial asthma, acute gastroenteritis, acute asthmatic bronchitis and tuberculosis etc during the last five years. The inhabitants get benefits like rations at subsidized rate, free houses, and rebate in electricity etc from the authority of North Eastern Coalfields.

There is lack of consciousness on the part of the local inhabitants regarding personal hygiene and sanitation facilities. They are also negligent in relation to safe drinking water. As is revealed from the study, though the coalmine authorities provide LPG cylinders free of cost to the employees, major percentage (i.e. 92%) of the households uses coal as a source of fuel for household energy needs. Burning of coal exposes women and children on a daily basis to a major public health hazard through indoor air pollution. This exposure increases the risk of important diseases including pneumonia, chronic respiratory disease and lung cancer. Evidence is also emerging that exposure may increase the risk of a number of other important conditions, including TB, low birth weight, and cataract. Furthermore, a range of inter-related quality of life, economic and environmental consequences of household energy use and its impact on health are also of great concern.

Thus it becomes imperative that if mining is to be happen, enabling conditions need to be created and put in place to ensure that local inhabitants benefit from the project. At the same time mining activity has to ensure that there is improved quality of life giving emphasis on the social, environmental and health impact assessment of mining and the implications of resource demand of mining visa vis the rights and needs of the local inhabitants.

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DUKHABANDHU SAHOO

School of HSS & M, IIT Bhubaneswar

ANAMIKA BHATTACHARJEE

Assam University, Silchar, Assam
Table 1
Colliery-wise and Year wise Coal Production From
2003-04 to 2007-08, North Eastern Coalfields,
Margherita, Assam

(Figures in Tonnes)

Year              Underground

          Tipong    Ledo   Borgolai   Sub-Total

2003-04    44303   27239      51007      122549
2004-05    64796   30070      54848      149714
2005-06    50025   30250      42621      122896
2006-07    50200   24521      35833      110554
2007-08    48292   20767      24679       93738

Year         Opencast

           Tikak    Tirap   Sub-Total

2003-04   190361   420224      610585
2004-05   112851   365570      478421
2005-06   321800   655317      977117
2006-07   449679   489807      939486
2007-08   466962   540020     1006982

Source: Balance Sheet of North Eastern Coalfields,
Margherita, 2008

Table 2
Year wise Total Budget Share in the Medical Expenditure
and Per Worker Health Expenditure in North Eastern
Coalfields From 2005-06 to 2007-08, Margherita

(In Rs. Lakh)

Year                     Expenditure

          Medical Expenditure   Per Worker Health
                                      Expenditure

2005-06                168.97                4800
2006-07                204.66                6000
2007-08                210.25                6500

Source: Balance Sheet of North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita, 2008

Table 3
Details of the Manpower and Infrastructural
Particulars of the Central Hospital, North
Eastern Coalfields, Margherita

(In Numbers)

Particulars         Number

Doctor                  15
Emergency Doctor         1
Nurses                  17
Pharmacist               4
X-ray Technicians        2
Laboratory Staffs        3
Aaya                    20
Helper                   1
Sweeper                 20
Beds                    84
Ambulance                2

Source: Central Hospital, North Eastern
Coalfields, Margherita, 2008

Table 4
Number of Registered Patients in Central
Hospital, North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita

(In Numbers)

Year       Number of patients

2003-04                16,416
2004-05                16,840
2005-06                16,742
2006-07                16,917
2007-08                16,552
2008-09 *              16,400

Source: Registered book of Central Hospital,
North Eastern Coalfields, Margherita, 2009

* Registered patients upto February, 2009

Table 5
The Pollutants Released From the Collieries and Their Imnact on Health

Pollutants                      Diseases

Sulphur Dioxide                 Asthma, Tuberculosis
Oxides of Nitrogen              Asthma, Tuberculosis
Suspended Particulate Matter    Bronchitis, Asthma, Chronic Cough,
                                  Tuberculosis
Respirable Particulate Matter   Bronchitis, Asthma, Chronic Cough,
                                  Tuberculosis
Acidic Water                    Gastroenteritis, Skin Problems

Source: "Health and Environment", State of Environment Report, 2003

Table 6
Location-wise Trend of Disease Pattern in the Sample Coalmine Areas,
Borgolai and Tikak (2004-2008)

(In numbers)

Disease Pattern   Place         2004      2005      2006

                              No. of    No. of    No. of
                             persons   persons   persons

Tuberculosis      Borgolai        18        18        19
                  Tikak            6         9         8
                  Total           24        27        27
Bronchitis        Borgolai        18         8        21
                  Tikak            8         8        11
                  Total           26        16        32
Asthma            Borgolai        15        27        14
                  Tikak            9        19         4
                  Total           24        46        18
Gastroenteritis   Borgolai        75        59        53
                  Tikak           24        31        23
                  Total           99        90        76
Skin Infection    Borgolai        12         2         6
                  Tikak            8         2         5
                  Total           20         4        11

Disease Pattern   Place         2007      2008

                              No. of    No. of
                             persons   persons

Tuberculosis      Borgolai        21        15
                  Tikak            7        10
                  Total           28        25
Bronchitis        Borgolai        25        19
                  Tikak           10         9
                  Total           35        28
Asthma            Borgolai        28        21
                  Tikak           20        13
                  Total           48        34
Gastroenteritis   Borgolai        56        50
                  Tikak           38        42
                  Total           94        92
Skin Infection    Borgolai         7         7
                  Tikak            3         3
                  Total           10        10

Source: Indoor Patient Record, Central Hospital, North
Eastern Coalfields, 2008

Table 7
Disease Pattern among the Sample Households of Borgolai and
Tikak, 2008

(In Numbers & Percentage)

                   No. of
Disease pattern   Persons      %ge   [chi square]-Value

Tuberculosis           27     6.63                 8.62
Bronchitis             20     4.91                 4.67
Asthma                 52    12.78                32.58
Gastroenteritis       182    44.72             404.69 *
Skin infection        126    30.96             193.49 *
Total                 407   100.00

Source: Field survey, 2008

* implies significant at 1 per cent level of significance

Table 8
Occupation-wise Disease Pattern among the Family Members
of the Sample Households in Borgolai and Tikak, 2008

(In numbers and percentage)

Disease pattern    NECL ([PSI]) Employees

                   No. of            [chi square]-
                  persons      %ge           Value

Tuberculosis            9     8.11            3.24
Bronchitis              5     4.50            0.90
Asthma                 31    27.93       42.89 ***
Gastroenteritis        54    48.65        128.92 *
Skin infection         12    10.81            5.95
Total                 111   100.00

Disease pattern   Non-NECL employees and unemployed

                   No. of            [chi square]-
                  persons      %ge           Value

Tuberculosis           18     6.08            5.17
Bronchitis             15     5.07            3.55
Asthma                 21     7.09            7.09
Gastroenteritis       128    43.24        274.59 *
Skin infection        114    38.51         217.6 *
Total                 296   100.00

Source: Field survey, 2008

* and *** represents significant at 1% and 10% level of significance,
([PSI]) represents North Eastern Coalfields

Table 9
Location-wise Disease Pattern of the Sample Households,
Borgolai and Tikak, 2008

(In numbers and percentage)

Disease Pattern             [BRG.sup.1]

                   No. of      %ge   [chi square]
                  Persons                 Value

Tuberculosis           19     8.72           7.84
Bronchitis             14     6.42           4.17
Asthma                 31    14.22          21.33
Gastroenteritis        87    39.91       171.61 *
Skin infection         67    30.73       101.42 *
Total                 218   100.00

Disease Pattern            [TKK.sup.2]

                   No. of      %ge   [chi square]
                  Persons                   Value

Tuberculosis            8     4.23           1.48
Bronchitis              6     3.17           0.79
Asthma                 21    11.11          11.11
Gastroenteritis        95    50.26       236.24 *
Skin infection         59    31.22        90.53 *
Total                 189   100.00

Source: Field survey, 2008

* represents 1% level of significance

[BRG.sup.1] and [TKK.sup.2] represent Borgolai and Tikak
respectively.

Table 10
Relationship between the Levels of Education and Awareness among
the Sample Households Regarding the Pollutants Emitted from the
Coalmines, Borgolai and Tikak, 2008

(In percentage)

Level of Education     Awareness about pollutants emitted

                       No. of Households   Percentage (%)

Graduate (1)                          21            39.62
Higher Secondary (2)                  15            28.30
Secondary (3)                         12            22.64
Upper Primary (4)                      5             9.43
Primary (5)                            0             0.00
Total                                 53           100.00

Source: Field survey, 2008

Note: (1)- Class 15; (2)- Class 11-12; (3)- Class 9-10;
(4)- Class 6-8 and (5)- Class 1-5

Table 11
Relationship between Occupational Pattern and Awareness among
the Sample Households about the Pollutants Emitted from the
Collieries, Borgolai and Tikak, 2008

(In percentage)

Occupation pattern    Awareness about pollutants emitted

                      No. of Households   Percentage (%)

NECL * Employees                     43            81.13
NECL Non- Employees
  and Unemployed                     10            18.87
Total                                53           100.00

Source: Field survey, 2008

Table 12
Relationship between the Levels of Education and Awareness among
the Sample Households Regarding the Diseases Caused by the
Pollutants Emitted from the Coalmines, Borgolai and Tikak, 2008

(In percentage)

Level of Education     Awareness about pollutants emitted

                       No. of Households   Percentage (%)

Graduate (1)                          19            36.54
Higher Secondary (2)                  16            30.77
Secondary (3)                         14            26.92
Upper Primary (4)                      2             3.85
Primary (5)                            1             1.92
Total                                 52           100.00

Source: Field survey, 2008

Note: (1)- Class 15; (2)- Class 11-12; (3)- Class 9-10;
(4)- Class 6-8 and (5)- Class 1-5

Table 13
Relationship between the Occupational Pattern and Awareness among
the Sample Households Regarding the Diseases Caused by the
Pollutants Emitted from the Coahhines, Borgolai and Tikak, 2008

(In percentage)

Occupation Pattern                  Awareness about pollutants
                                             emitted

                                        No. of
                                    Households   Percentage (%)

NECL * Employees                            41            78.85
Non NECL-Employees and Unemployed           11            21.15
Total                                       52           100.00

Source: Field survey, 2008

* represents North Eastern Coalfields
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