Groundwater in 18 districts of Haryana contaminated with arsenic, fluoride found in 21 districts : The Tribune India

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Groundwater in 18 districts of Haryana contaminated with arsenic, fluoride found in 21 districts

NGT issues notice to state through Chief Secy

Groundwater in 18 districts of Haryana contaminated with arsenic, fluoride found in 21 districts

Photo for representational purpose only. File



Tribune News Service

Bhartesh Singh Thakur & Mukesh Tandon

Chandigarh, December 30

After the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) informed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that groundwater in 18 districts of Haryana is contaminated with arsenic; and with fluoride in 21 districts, the tribunal has issued notice to the state through the Chief Secretary.

The NGT is hearing a case related to arsenic and fluoride contamination of groundwater in several states. After Uttar Pradesh (45), Bihar (27) and Assam (21), it is Haryana where maximum districts (18) are affected by arsenic contamination — Ambala, Bhiwani, Faridabad, Fatehabad, Hisar, Jhajjar, Jind, Karnal, Panipat, Rohtak, Sirsa, Sonepat, Yamunanagar, Mahendergarh, Palwal, Panchkula, Rewari and Kaithal.

Punjab has 17 districts where groundwater is contaminated while Kangra in Himachal Pradesh is affected. According to CGWB, arsenic is a naturally occurring trace element found in rocks, soils and the water in contact with them. Arsenic has been recognised as a toxic element and is considered a human health hazard. The maximum permissible limit of arsenic for drinking purposes is 0.01 mg/l or 10 ppb.

The CGWB says that water with a concentration of fluoride more than 1.5 mg/l is not suitable for drinking. There are 21 districts in Haryana, except Charkhi Dadri, where fluoride concentration is more than the permissible value. In Punjab, 19 districts are affected and two (Sirmaur and Una) are in HP.

As per CGWB’s report dated December 18, the fluoride found in groundwater is naturally occurring from the breakdown of rocks and soils or weathering and deposition of atmospheric particles. Most of the fluorides are sparingly soluble and are present in groundwater in small amounts.

Small amounts of fluoride (less than 1 mg/l) have proven to be beneficial in reducing tooth decay. However, high concentrations such as 1.5 mg/l and above have resulted in staining of tooth enamel. At still higher levels of fluoride ranging between 5 and 10 mg/l, further pathological changes such as stiffness of the back and difficulty in performing natural movements may take place, says CGWB.

The CGWB admitted groundwater contaminated with arsenic in 230 districts of 25 states and UTs and fluoride more than permissible value is found in 469 districts of 27 states and UTs.

The NGT observed that from the CGWB’s report, while the presence of toxic elements like arsenic and fluoride present in groundwater, contaminating it and also causing serious toxic effects to the human body are admitted, no effective steps have been taken by Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) “though under law, it is the body responsible for regulating groundwater”.

The CGWA submitted before the tribunal that water is a state subject and therefore it was not capable of taking any serious action in the matter. However, NGT, in its order dated December 20, said, “We are surprised that after such a long time, even today, CGWA has the audacity to shirk away from its own statutory responsibility and obligations and taking such flimsy grounds which have already been rejected by the apex court itself.”

While issuing notice to affected states including Haryana and Punjab, CGWA, and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for their responses, the tribunal termed the issue “serious” and added that it “required urgent preventive and protective steps by all authorities concerned”.

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#Environment #Groundwater #National Green Tribunal NGT


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