Go no-veg: Toxic City’s unpalatable facts

What goes around comes around. The toxic water sent to Kolar from Bengaluru is coming back in the form of ‘poisoned’ vegetables, upsetting the health of Bengalureans and exposing them to high-risk diseases. Experts feel vegetables at supermarkets and neighbourhood mandis could be contaminated.The government should treat the water to the prescribed limit before pumping it to the countryside.

Bengalureans may be growing increasingly fussy about their food habits with organic produce gaining in popularity of late, but unfortunately the serving of vegetables on their plates could be risky for their health for a reason beyond the control of the grower.

With vegetables arriving in the city from Kolar and Anekal there is now increasing concern about the diversion of the contaminated and frothing water of the city’s Varthur lake to water bodies in and around Kolar without adequate treatment as this could pollute its groundwater and crops.

The farmers of Kolar, who depend heavily on  borewells for their crops,  market their vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, beans, carrot, beetroots  spinach and lettuce in Bengaluru. Besides KR Market, Russel Market and Hopcoms they supply vegetables to various supermarkets in the city. 

A Hopcoms staffer admits that the outlets  source their vegetables from Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Anekal, Devanahalli and Magadi. “Most of the vegetables and greens come from Kolar, Anekal and Devanahalli to the city. Also several supermarkets get their vegetables from collection centres located in Kolar, Hoskote and Devanahalli, where they are brought by the farmers,” he explains.  

While pointing out that vegetables grown in Anekal are also sold in various markets in the city, Ms Deepanjali, a member of Voice of Sarjapura, notes with concern that the Varthur lake water flows into a stream in the area from where water is pumped to irrigate at least 300 acres.

Lead scientist of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), Dr TV Ramachandra, says there is also concern about the presence of heavy metal downstream of the frothing Bellandur lake, as vegetables are grown here too.

Chief dietician of the BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital, Karthigai Selvi,  says vegetables can be contaminated with metals due to environmental pollution and their high concentration can lead to nausea, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

“Vegetables are an inevitable and important part of a healthy and balanced diet. But they are being contaminated due to pollutants from industries, agriculture, and pharmaceutical and domestic effluents. High concentration of the metals can lead to heart problems, anaemia, mood swings, insomnia and weakness. In fact, high concentration of certain heavy metals in vegetables like copper , cadmium and lead is even related to higher prevalence of upper gastro- intestinal cancer,” he warns


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