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Transformation of Punjab’s Malwa Region from Cotton Belt to Cancer Belt

Author Affiliations

  • 1Centre for Economic Studies, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda, Punjab, India
  • 2Centre for Economic Studies, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda, Punjab, India

Int. Res. J. Social Sci., Volume 5, Issue (9), Pages 35-40, September,14 (2016)


The immoderate exploitation of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, diffusion of heavy metals in groundwater, industrial waste leading to river water pollution turned out to be the major causes of cancer in Malwa region of Punjab. The average cases of cancer per lakh are higher in Punjab than in other parts of India. Among the three regions of Punjab (i.e. Majha, Malwa and Doaba), the prevalence of cancer is highest in Malwa (108.9 per lakh) region, particularly in cotton belt of malwa region, that is the south-western part of Punjab as the use of pesticides is more on cotton crop as compared to the other crops grown in the state. Due to this, the cotton belt of Punjab is stigmatized and is labelled as ‘Cancer Belt of Punjab’. The incidents are found more in villages particularly among the agricultural labourers and peasants. The disease has put rural families into the burden of poverty as well as indebtedness. The exorbitant treatment of cancer and the lack of facilities in civil hospitals in Punjab force the patients from Punjab to approach the Acharya Tulsi Das Regional Cancer Centre, Bikaner in Rajasthan state via infamous ‘cancer train’ for getting aided treatment at economical rates. Although, many initiatives have been taken by the state government such as establishment of RO systems in villages, testing of heavy metals in groundwater, undertaking of health education activities to aware the people regarding the signs, symptoms and prevention of cancer, control on excessive use of chemicals on crops, Mukh Mantri Cancer Rahat Kosh Scheme and cancer registry system but much more is needed to be done to prevent the nuisance. Some measures should be taken to control this disease by improving the facilities in civil hospitals, cleaning of water bodies, restrictions on industrialists as well as MCs on polluting the water, imposing strict restrictions on overusage and banned chemicals, promoting organic farming, strategies towards crop diversification etc.


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