(NEWS) Bundelkhand is Asbestos rich : ALLAHABAD University
IT’S ALLAHABAD University’s (AU) priceless New Year gift to the country, especially to residents of Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh.
Head of University’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Department Dr JK Pati has discovered a rich treasure (deposit) of high grade asbestos at Bargaon village in Jhansi district for the first time in Uttar Pradesh. The deposit, it is said, has the potential to turn around the economy of the poverty-stricken Bundhelkhand.
The region had been lacking natural resources. Besides, water shortage here has even led to crop failures and starvation deaths.
No wonder, asbestos deposits have been found, but, an AU expert has a stark warning too: Though mining can trigger a march towards prosperity of the region, if it is done carelessly and without proper safeguards or even left untouched, this asbestos— already lying exposed to the surface— has the possibility of spelling doom for the people with its carcinogenic properties.
“The asbestos deposit found in Bargaon village of Mauranipur in Jhansi district display high grade asbestos with long fibres that is very rare. We have already got confirmation of the find through microscopic analysis of the samples and we are now in the process of carrying out X-ray analysis for the benefit of the scientific community,” said Dr Pati, who after returning recently from his field trip is now busy preparing a manuscript for communicating the find to The Journal of The Geological Society of India in Bangalore.
Dr Pati said that the asbestos veins in the Bargaon village left no doubt that it was a big deposit that needed an extensive exploration. “The exposed area itself spreads in over 2 square kilometres and at places the veins are over 20 cm thick even at the surface,” he added.
Dr Pati confirmed that neither the Geological Survey of India nor the State Government’s Department of Geology and Mining have been able to find any asbestos in the State “to the best of knowledge and existing reports”.
About the financial implications, Dr Pati said that even by the 1997 price, low-quality asbestos traded for Canadian $ 180/ton while the high-grade commanded a price of Canadian $ 1,750/ton. “The fact that asbestos has various commercial uses — being used in cement products, as fillers in plastics, brake linings and clutch facings, for asbestos textiles, gaskets as well as acoustic, electric and heat insulation —- makes it quite valuable. If properly utilised, the asbestos find can transform this Bundelkhand region,” he said.
Dr Pati, however, warned of the cancer causing properties of the asbestos. “The developed world, be it the US, Canada or Australia, all follow stringent mining laws, while taking out asbestos, as it can cause various ailments including lung cancer. The government will have to ensure that the safeguards are in place if asbestos is to be dug out. It would also need to educate the people of the region about the dangers, as the asbestos is already exposed to the surface over a wide area and can become a major health hazard for them,” he said.