Teeming arsenic and fluoride devils will no longer hold a thirsty Jharkhand to ransom.
The state drinking water and sanitation department has made its first move to set up plants that can purge the contaminants before groundwater reaches households in several affected districts, including Ranchi.
Special apparatus will be launched in the capital district and Sahebganj, where areas like Pathalkudwa and Rajmahal have high arsenic concentration in water – around 5mg/l against a permissible limit of 0.05mg/l.
Similarly, electro-defluoridation plants will come up in Palamau and Garhwa, where fluoride concentration in drinking water has touched 5.92mg/l against the permissible limit of 1.5mg/l.
The tender for the latter has been finalised. The same for the arsenic-buster plants will be decided at a pre-bid meeting in Ranchi on April 6.
In Ranchi and Sahebganj, arsenic in water has been causing skin pigmentation and lesions fingers and toes.
According to a rough survey, around 80 per cent children in Palamau and Garhwa complain of dental fluorosis, and 47 per cent adults suffer from skeletal fluorosis.
Dental fluorosis, also called mottling of tooth enamel, is a developmental disturbance caused by consumption of excess fluorides. The risk of fluoride overexposure occurs at any age but is higher in children. Skeletal fluorosis is a bone disease caused by excessive accumulation of fluorides. In advanced cases, skeletal fluorosis causes damage to bones and joints.
According to plan, the first phase will see around 200 electro-defluoridation plants in Garhwa and Palamau, where more than 20,000 people are affected. The number of anti-arsenic plants in Ranchi and Sahebganj will be decided at the meeting on April 6.
Ramesh Kumar, chief engineer (drinking water and sanitation) said three companies from Maharashtra had been selected for installation of the defluoridation plants. “All the 200 units will be installed by this year-end,” he said, adding that residents would need to pay a very nominal amount for every litre of safe water.
Installation of an electro-defluoridation plant is likely to be around Rs 20 lakh. The required investment for every set-up to remove arsenic will be around Rs 25 lakh. The funds will be provided by the drinking water department.