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Groundwater toxicity: HR panel seeks report
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 7
Taking suo motu notice of The Tribune report on lethal concentrations of arsenic in Punjab’s groundwater, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission has sought a report from the state chief secretary.

“The commission takes suo motu cognisance of the news and calls for the report of the chief secretary on the point as to what remedial measures are being taken to counter this lethal menace,” the full commission comprising acting chairperson Justice R.L. Anand and members B.C. Rajput, N.K.Arora and K. K.Bhatnagar stated in their June 6 order.

The report has been sought by July 12, with the commission viewing with urgency the details of Punjab Agricultural University’s latest report on arsenic toxicity of groundwater in Punjab. It observed, “The full commission has gone through the contents of the news item which states that 80 per cent of Punjab’s groundwater is unfit for human consumption. The safe limit for arsenic content in water is 10 parts per billion (ppb). However, its concentration in groundwater samples taken from different districts of Punjab ranges from 3.5 ppb to 688 ppb in the south-western districts, where the incidence of cancer is also on the rise.”

Particularly concerned with the association between arsenic and cancers, the commission also took a serious view of the finding that not a single groundwater sample in Sangrur, Mansa, Faridkot, Muktsar, Bathinda, and Ferozepur was found potable. Calling the PAU report exhaustive, the commission desired the chief secretary to comply by July 12.

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