The glowing marks mean that water pouring out of the pumps is unfit for consumption. The department, through a notice on November 30 sent to the village panchayat, wants villagers warned through the public address system that water from the hand-pumps carries hazardous chemicals.

When a similar incident in China was brought to the notice of the government, Beijing acted quickly. Top officials of the company that was involved in polluting the Tuojiang River were removed and the company itself was fined $1,20,000. The one million people who suffered were promptly given help.

In Toansa, though, the administration has asked villagers to consume water supplied only by the department. The official letter blames Ranbaxy Ltd, Montari Industries and DSM India for directly polluting ground water through leakage in their storage tanks. The village, which has a population of over 4,000, has vowed to fight back.

Its sarpanch, Dharampal Kataria, said if the issue was not settled, it could take a political turn. Already, the entire village has skin diseases, children have asthma and men and women complain of nausea and headache. It is not just poison under the ground, even the air is highly contaminated.

“Ground water up to 100 ft has got contaminated. Who will take care of us? We do not have money power to fight the big industrialists,” said an old villager. He is blind. Consistent fly-ash from a nearby industry took his eyesight away.

Response of DSM to concerns regarding pollution of groundwater near one of its facilities in India
21 December 2005

DSM provided this statement to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in response to “Pharma factories poison village water,” Khushwant Singh, Times of India, 6 Dec 2005:

“DSM took notice of the complaints about the water quality in certain villages in the Toansa area. Until now it is not yet confirmed if at all water is polluted, and if so, to what extent and who/what the possible polluting source is. DSM fully cooperates with the Punjab Pollution Control Board who investigate the water quality. Apart from this investigation, DSM has taken several measures to reduce the use of solvents and to introduce envirnonmentally-friendly, biotechnology-based production processes and build and operate a waste water treatment plant using the latest technologies. The current measures and regular ground water checks make DSM involvement in a possible pollution case unlikely.”