Everyone wants to horde gold these days.
But the ever increasing demand of the precious metal seems to have put people living near the gold mines at risk.
A study in Karnataka has indicated that even those areas where gold mines have been shut down are heavily contaminated with arsenic.
The element causes cancer among other things.
Karnataka has two working gold mines and is one of the few places in India where the metal is found.
Business is good.
The Hutti Gold Mines Company Limited in Lingsugur bagged a net profit of Rs 188 crore after tax deductions in 2011-12.
To cash in on the boom, the state government is hunting for gold in new areas besides planning to reopen old mines.
It granted a prospecting licence to Deccan Exploration Services Private Limited in October, to look for gold in Dharwad district.
Image: Schoolchildren play in front of an abandoned shaft at Kolar Gold Fields, located in Karnataka September 9, 2011.
Text: Vibha Varshney (Reprinted with permission from Down to Earth magazine)