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Cancer Express carry Punjab farmers the victims of chemical fertilizers and pesticides
December 4, 2013: The Abohar-Jodhpur train known locally as the "Cancer Express" in Bhatinda, India. The train stops at 27 stations
during an eight-hour journey to a community with a hospital that offers free medicine and doctor visits.
The train are also bound from Bhatinda to Bikaner to the same hospital for the same tests.
Over the last five years, more than 34,000 people died of cancer in Punjab alone, the government said.
Farmers across Punjab state helped India double farm yields in 50 years, making the country a food exporter from a chronically
hungry one in the 1960s. The “Green Revolution” introduced them to chemical fertilizers and pesticides that seeped into increasingly scarce
water sources and contaminated food and soil. People in the second-most populous nation are now paying for it with their lives.
Pesticide overuse on wheat fields critical to feeding Indians that ended
up in drinking supplies or arsenic in water drained by wells may have led to the lung cancer that convulses the septuagenarian.
The government has tried to make more people aware of the dangers of pesticides, with farmers told to use only safe chemicals as recommended
on product labels, Agriculture Commissioner J.S. Sandhu said. Yet chemicals such as arsenic and fluoride, some that found their way
into waters, others naturally occurring in less potent amounts that grew more concentrated as wells and aquifers were drained, began causing
clusters of diseases and health issues in India, according to the World Bank.
Dirty water and inadequate sanitation cause 10 percent of all deaths in
India, Asia’s third-largest economy. Severe surface and groundwater contamination has affected 65 million people across India, a report on the government website shows