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Carcinogenic content found in Baddi-Barotiwala groundwater

Carcinogenic content found in Baddi-Barotiwala groundwater

Baddi-Barotiwala groundwater has been contaminated due to discharge of toxic metals by industries.



Tribune News Service

Ambika Sharma

Solan, June 13

In an alarming revelation, assessment of groundwater by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mandi, and IIT-Jammu in the state’s Baddi-Barotiwala industrial area has revealed high carcinogenic risks for adults, mainly from industrial nickel and chromium. Experts claim, “If left unattended, the lower Himalayan region is on a trajectory similar to south-western Punjab, which is considered the cancer belt of India.”

“Industrialisation has contaminated groundwater with toxic metals, exceeding permissible limits. The reliance on untreated groundwater has caused numerous health problems, including cancer and renal disease between 2013 and 2018,” indicates the study.

2014 study found 16 contaminated sites

  • An IIT-Mandi study says that industrialisation has contaminated groundwater with toxic metals, exceeding permissible limits
  • An environmental study conducted by the IIT-Kanpur in 2014 had also raised the alarm as it found 16 sites where higher-than-normal presence of carcinogen benzoapyrene (BaP) found in coal tar, automobile exhaust fumes, etc), high level of arsenic, besides higher lead concentration in water was found

SPCB not aware of report

  • The study found that the region’s groundwater was rock-dominated, mainly of calcium carbonate type
  • Uniform uranium levels were detected in all samples, with most metals traced to industrial sources
  • Member Secretary, State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), Anil Joshi said they were not aware of the report

Besides, high non-carcinogenic risks for both adults and children, primarily due to natural uranium, with additional risks from industrial sources of zinc, lead, cobalt, and barium have also been found in the study. Researchers analysed the distribution of cancer-causing pollutants in the groundwater in the area.

Dr Nitin Joshi, Assistant Professor, IIT-Jammu, while expressing concern, said, “The analysis revealed that, if left unattended, the lower Himalayan region is on a trajectory similar to south-western Punjab”. The belt houses more than 90 per cent of the state’s industry and non-functional effluent treatment plants where untreated effluents are conveniently let out through the drains. They find their way into the ground water much to the peril of the residents.

The study once again corroborated the sorry state of affairs in this industrial belt while stressing the need for improved effluent treatment to reduce these risks.

The study found that the region’s groundwater was rock-dominated, mainly of the calcium carbonate type. Uniform uranium levels were detected in all samples, with most metals traced to industrial sources, while uranium and molybdenum were naturally occurring.

Elaborating on the research, Dr Deepak Swami, Associate Professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, IIT-Mandi, said, “Groundwater poses high health risks through oral intake, necessitating urgent remediation. Monitoring industrial effluents for zinc, lead, nickel, and chromium is essential to prevent health hazards. Policies must be framed to balance industrial development with public health for sustainable growth.”

Key metals of concern have been identified and geospatial maps showing metal contamination and health risks across village boundaries have been prepared by the experts. Member Secretary, State Pollution Control Board, Anil Joshi said they were not aware of the report.

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