For several decades, residents in Royapuram Assembly constituency have been suffering the effects of inhaling limestone, iron ore and coal dust. Transportation of these dusty cargoes in open trucks from and to Chennai port had exposed them to serious health hazards.

With surveys revealing that incidence of respiratory diseases and chest infections were higher in the area due to heavy vehicle traffic and the dust, the government was developing roads that would bypass residential localities, said Speaker D. Jayakumar, who was elected MLA from the constituency.

Speaking at a medical camp sponsored by him in Royapuram on Wednesday, he explained that the government had proposed two connectivity projects – from Chennai port to Ennore via Manali and the Chennai Port to Maduravoyal four lane project to address the issue of pollution.

Delay in project

“Transport of coal, iron ore and limestone has caused a lot of pollution in Ward 50 [of Chennai Corporation]. We have been suffering as the harbour is close by. But by next year, I assure you that container truck movement and transportation of coal and iron ore will not pose problems for you. The Central government project required the cooperation of eight departments and hence the delay. When it was envisaged in 2004, the project for developing the road from Chennai port to Ennore cost Rs.160 crore but the revised estimate is Rs.600 crore. The government will ensure that the area will regain its name as ‘pink' locality,” he said.

The Institute of Thoracic Medicine conducted the camp ahead of World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day to be observed on Thursday. A total of 412 persons were screened at the camp and the investigations included spirometry, blood and sputum tests and x-ray.

Director of the Institute M. Meenakshi said sporadic surveys had found that incidence of COPD and asthma was high in the area. “Earlier, COPD was thought to be caused by smoking but studies have found that indoor (chulas) and outdoor pollution caused by automobiles have also contributed,” she said.

Rally

In Mylapore, about 120 students of P.S. Higher Secondary School participated in a rally and human chain organised to create awareness about the need to give up smoking, the primary cause of COPD.

Students sported skull masks and held rallies from the Tirumayilai MRTS Station to the Mylapore bus stand.

Asthma specialist R. Sridharan who participated in the rally, conducted by pharmaceutical firm Cipla, said: “The public should have the courage to stop being passive smokers. It is their right to breathe free.”

Medical camp

As part of the COPD Day, Sundaram Medical Foundation, Anna Nagar, conducted a free medical camp for truck drivers and conducted a workshop on performing spirometry test for lab technicians and paramedical staff. A screening camp was organised by Frontier Lifeline Hospital, Mogappair.

The theme for this year's World COPD Day is ‘Are you short of breath? You may have COPD. Ask your doctor about a simple test called spirometry.'

Keywords: air pollution

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