EDITORIAL: Ruined crops

Unless remedial measures are taken the damage caused by industrial pollution would get worse

Toxic wastes released by liquor factories have had an adverse impact on local environment crops in Rautahat. This is the height of irresponsibility. The factories concerned should be treating the waste so that they do not cause damage to the crops. Paddy crops planted in thousands of bighas of land have been destroyed over the years due to the toxic chemicals released in the river. This has led the farmers of Durga Bhagwati Rural Municipality in Rautahat to stage a vehicular strike to draw attention of the government to the toxic chemicals discharged by various factories including distilleries. Toxic chemicals have been released into the local Jhanj River by the liquor factories. This has been an ongoing problem as this has been happening for long with little being done in order to penalize the offending factories while they go scot-free despite the huge damage they are doing to farming. In the past, when extensive damage had been done to the paddy fields there the then CDO, after carrying out the necessary investigations, had ordered three offending distilleries to pay Rs. 80 million as a fine. This however has not deterred the concerned factories from releasing the wastes into the river causing pollution and environmental degradation and huge damage to crops ruining entire fields.

This is not the plight of the municipality of Rautahat alone. Moreover, the culprits responsible for this state of affairs are getting away with their misdeeds. We need strict abidance to the provisions which prohibit the factories from releasing their untreated wastes. The damage done by them is often irreparable. Many rivers are being polluted by the factories thereby disturbing the fragile ecosystem of this Himalayan country. The agitating farmers will not be satisfied with compensation alone unless something is done about the contamination of the rivers and paddy fields. The agitators are threatening sterner action unless the problem is resolved and their fields are fit for cultivation and not further damaged which is reasonable.

A memorandum to this effect has been submitted by the affected farmers to the District Administration Office and District Agriculture Development Office that seeks action against the factories but they have yet to take the necessary action. These entities should implement the investigation report carried out earlier and act on how to prevent the factories from releasing the toxic chemicals. The concerned should act soon for at stake is the livelihood of the farmers who depend on agriculture for their livelihood. There should be a nationwide campaign enforcing a ban on all factories from releasing pollutants into the rivers. This malady needs to be monitored and all efforts should be made to make the rivers pollution-free from toxic wastes. As for now, the damage should be studied and ways devised to prevent further pollution by toxic wastes. It is high time the government intervened to address the genuine demands of the farmers by not only providing them with compensation but also seeing to it that pollution that is taking place rampantly is dealt with firmly. Unless remedial measures are taken the damage caused by industrial pollution would get worse.

Take action

Many pharmacies are learned to have sold date-expired medicines and injections unaware of the general people. A five-year-old boy from Jhapa was in serious condition after being administered a date-expired injection at Kathmandu Medical College and Teaching Hospital. A nurse in the morning shift had administered the date-expired injection sold by the hospital’s authorized pharmacy. However, another nurse informed the mother of the child that the medicine she had bought had already expired three months ago. Doctors said date-expired medicine remains 80 percent ineffective.

The concerned pharmacy which sold the date-expired medicine and the nurse who administered it without checking the date should be taken legal action for cheating the customer and for her utter negligence. There are many pharmacies which knowingly cheat the customers by selling the date-expired medicines and, in most cases, they also push sell medicines of different pharmaceuticals than what has been prescribed by doctors. This trend is widespread even in the capital. The Department of Drug Administration which is responsible for monitoring the pharmacies should take strong action against those unscrupulous pharmacists.