New Delhi: In a revelation that could draw the eyeballs of many in Assam, a government statistics has said that the State finds its place amongst 10 worst affected States in the country having contaminated drinking water. Assam registered 282 deaths due to acute diarrheal diseases last year.
Government statistics available with this correspondent revealed that diarrheal deaths in Assam are second highest in the country after Uttar Pradesh. As many as 303 such deaths have been reported in Uttar Pradesh and 192 deaths in West Bengal.
The other affected States are Rajasthan, Bihar, Punjab, Telangana, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
“To deal with arsenic and fluoride contamination, with the recommendation of NITI Aayog, the Centre has released Rs 800 crore for commissioning community water purification plants so that safe water for drinking and cooking needs is addressed immediately. In addition, funds to the tune of Rs 100 crore each are also provided for tackling arsenic and fluoride problems in West Bengal and Rajasthan respectively for the last mile connectivity in commissioning surface water based piped water supply schemes,” an official in the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation said.
The presence of maximum chemical contaminants in drinking water, arsenic and fluoride may result in a variety of diseases.
For improving the coverage of safe drinking water to rural population, the Ministry supplements the efforts of the State governments by providing them with technical and financial assistance through the centrally sponsored National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP).
It is the State governments who plan, design, approve, execute and operate and maintain schemes for providing clean drinking water. Up to 67 percent of funds provided to the States under NRDWP can be utilized for coverage and tackling water quality problems with priority to arsenic and fluoride affected habitations.
“States have been advised to do proper disinfection of sources, conduct regular sanitary surveys, and test the water quality using field test kits, while positively reported samples are to be sent to the nearest district, sub-division, block level water quality testing laboratory for confirmation,” the official said.
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation launched a National Water Quality Sub-Mission in March this year to provide safe drinking water to about 28,000 arsenic and fluoride affected habitations. “During the year 2017 under National Water Quality Sub-Mission, funds to the tune of Rs 814.13 crore have been released to complete ongoing piped water supply schemes,” the official said.