Akash Vashishtha | Mail Today | New Delhi, May 5, 2015 | UPDATED 08:37 IST
Already grappling with the Ganga cleaning project, the government seems to have a bigger problem at hand as the groundwater in more than half of the country’s districts is contaminated with poisonous substances.Groundwater in at least 387 districts has high nitrate levels
The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) has come up with a shocking assessment, according to which 276 districts have high levels of fluorides in their groundwater. At least 387 districts in 21 states, of the 676 districts in the country, have nitrate above permissible levels and 87 areas have high arsenic content which is a slow poison.
The permissible levels of fluorides prescribed by Bureau of Indian Standards is 1.5 milligram per litre (mg/l) but groundwater exceeding the limit was found across the country from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar to Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
According to experts, if heavy metals enter the groundwater, they cannot be removed. At best, they can be diluted but they remain stuck to the aquifers forever.
“The report only reveals the utter failure of pollution boards and committees that have existed only in name during the past three decades.
Lack of control on effluents, which have polluted the basins as a whole, has resulted in this situation,” environmentalist Manoj Misra said.
CGWB chairman K.B. Biswas said, “The measurement for arsenic, iron, cadmium and chromium in the report are point-specific. It is not that the whole of the district in a given state are polluted. The fluoride measurements, however, are area-specific.”
In Haryana, the groundwater of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Rohtak, Panipat and Panchkula is contaminated. Significantly, the groundwater in 86 districts of 10 states has been detected with exceedingly high levels of arsenic. UP is the worst polluted.
Further worsening is the fact that the groundwater of 113 districts in 15 states has been poisoned with impermissible levels of hazardous heavy metals, lead, cadmium and chromium.
Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti could not be contacted for comments.