High arsenic levels found in 12 Punjab, Haryana districts

CHANDIGARH: Residents of 12 districts of Punjab and Haryana are consuming poisonous water as the groundwater there has been detected with arsenic levels beyond the permissible limit, the Union Ministry of Water Resources has said.

Aarti Kapur

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26

Residents of 12 districts of Punjab and Haryana are consuming poisonous water as the groundwater there has been detected with arsenic levels beyond the permissible limit, the Union Ministry of Water Resources has said. The ministry has directed the two states to prepare an action plan to contain the contamination.

These directions were given on the basis of sample reports of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) that found habitations of six districts each in the two states affected with arsenic in groundwater beyond the permissible limit of 0.05 milligram per litre.

Board regional director SK Jain said the sample reports of both states were shared with the officials concerned to take necessary action.

Medical teams of both states have been asked to look for symptoms of arsenic infection in patients, especially children since they are more vulnerable, he added.

In 2014, the CGWB collected 50 groundwater samples from Punjab, of which arsenic contamination more than 0.05 MG/L was found in six districts. These include Gandiwind (Amritsar district), Patti (Tarn Taran), Jhunir (Mansa), Dhilwan (Kapurthala), Ropar and Fazilka.

In fact, 30 more blocks in 13 districts of Punjab have arsenic contamination ranging between 0.01 and 0.05 Mg/L, the report says.

In Haryana, arsenic levels beyond 0.05 mg/l have been found in Gharaunda and Karnal (Karnal district), Bhuna (Fatehabad), Ambala, Nuh and Nagina (Mewat), and Kharkhauda (Sonipat).

Veenakshi Sharma of the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation, Communication and Capacity Development Unit, SAS Nagar, said Punjab had already taken precautionary steps by installing 1,848 reverse osmosis (RO) units in 70 areas out of 182 where arsenic contamination was detected.

She said 561 RO units had been recently sanctioned by the state government and proposal for 1,900 more had been sent to the Centre for funding.

A Haryana Public Health Department spokesperson said they had not detected any arsenic contamination in the state.

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