VISAKHAPATNAM: As many as 607 habitations with a population of close to 4.80 lakh people are prone to consuming drinking water with various impurities such as fluoride, iron, nitrate, heavy metals and salinity in the state.
According to a report recently tabled by union minister of drinking and sanitation Birender Singh in the Lok Sabha to a question posed by Guntur MP Jayadev Galla, Andhra Pradesh has witnessed a drop in number of villages affected by impurities in the last couple of years.
While higher-levels of fluoride have been noticed in 402 habitations affecting nearly 3.03 lakh people, water salinity is the next major threat affecting 164 habitations and 1.37 lakh people. Iron, heavy metals and nitrate have also been found in a few habitations in the state.
However, as compared to the previous fiscal, implementation of safe drinking water programmes have appeared to have dropped during the current fiscal.
While nearly 88 habitations affected by fluoride with a population of 2.10 lakh benefitted from the safe drinking water programmes in 2014-15, only 8 habitations with a population of 23,279 have benefitted in the current fiscal (as of December 7, 2015).
At the same time, while eight habitations affected by iron with a population of 13871 benefitted and 19 habitations affected by nitrate with a population of 34349 benefitted in 2014-15, the report says that no habitations have been reached in the current fiscal as of December 7, 2015. Similarly while 5 habitations affected by heavy metals in drinking water benefitted in 2014-15, no habitations have been reached in the current fiscal.
Even in areas affected with salinity, the state has only been able to reach 9 habitations with a population of 6027 in 2015-16 fiscal as compared to 103 habitations with 1.63 lakh in the last fiscal.
“The government is not taking serious steps to give protected drinking water to the people. They are announcing good schemes, but many of those schemes are not implemented on the ground as yet,” opined CPI assistant state secretary JV Satyanarayana Murthy.
“In the Agency Area of Visakhapatnam itself, the state government promised that they will give 20 litres drinking water for Rs 2, but those are still not been implemented,” he said adding that fluoride in drinking water is widely affecting people in districts of Prakasam as well as other parts of the state, but there is a need to conduct a detailed study on water contamination.
Reiterating that detailed analysis of drinking water samples need to be carried out across the state, environmental activist JV Ratnam said, “Industrial pollutants along with high usage of fertilisers and chemicals are affecting the ground water as well as the rivers of the state.” Citing an example, he said, “If you take Krishna district, effluents from industrial parks and power plants are affecting the water. We don’t have a clear mechanism for controlling the contamination of water.”
Despite repeated attempts, water resources management minister Devineni Uma Umamaheswar Rao was unavailable for comment.