Women work at an open chromite mine at Sukinda, in the eastern Indian
state of Orissa, in this undated photo. (See a map of India
The Sukinda valley contains 97 percent of the country's deposits of chromitea source of chromiumand is the site of one of the largest open-cast chromite ore mines in the world.
A list issued by the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute cites the region as one of the most polluted in the world.
Twelve mines operate in Sukinda, generating about 30 million tons of waste rock and contaminating more than 60 percent of the water resources with hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, the institute said on its Web site.
A state government study has also indicated that 85 percent of the deaths in the mining areas and nearby villages are due to chromite-mine related diseases.
The government reportedly stated that the situation in Sukinda "is unique, it is gigantic, and it is beyond the means and purview of the [Orissa Pollution Control] Board to solve the problem."
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Photograph by P. Madhavan/MMP India/Blacksmith Institute