Fluoride Action Network

Problem of groundwater contamination with arsenic a national issue

Source: Webindia123.com | January 4th, 2018 | UNI (United News of India)
Location: India

The problem of groundwater contamination with arsenic is a national issue and the government’s response to this crisis should be on a war footing. Institution of Public Health Engineers, India & Arsenic Task Force organised a One Day Consultation on”Dwindling Fresh Water Resources And Challenges Of Fluoride And Arsenic Mitigation Of GroundWater : Role Of Innovative Technology” in collaboration with Lehigh University, USA in Kolkata today.

As per the Union Ministry 239 million of people across 153 districts in 21 states drinks water that contains high levels of arsenic, it’s an appalling figure that needs to be tackled.

In India, the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, Chhattisgarh and Assam are affected by arsenic contamination of ground water. West Bengal has the highest number of arsenic-affected people in the country. The situation in West Bengal is extremely serious as 12 million urban and 16 million rural populations are living in arsenic affected areas in 9 districts and 112 blocks. In spite of years of effort by the Government and huge investment, a significant portion of the population is still at risk.

The arsenic removal plants [constructed] under various programmes are facing serious problems of operation maintenance and management. Epidemiological studies have been conducted in West Bengal, sponsoredby the Task Force and supported by PHED/UNICEF. The studies show that in the district of South 24 Parganas, where 7683 people were examined in 57 arsenic affected villages, the prevalence of arsenical skin lesion was found to be 4.6 per cent. In another study in Nadia district, the same is found to be 15 per cent. It is in this context that the Consultation is being held to make a thorough review and scientific evaluation of the technologies these are currently available for mitigation of arsenic and fluoride problem.

Held at CII Hall in Salt Lake, the daylong Consultation aims to bring out important clues and guidelines to the planners and policy makers in the arsenic affected states in the selection of technologies. The Event was inaugurated by the Chief Guest Prof. (Dr.) Ajoy Kr. Ray, Director, I.I.E.S.T. Shibpur; Prof. Arup K Sengupta, Lehigh University, USA, delivered the Key note address, Prof. K J Nath, President, IPHE, Chairman,Arsenic Task Force, presided over the function. A no. of sector leaders and experts from PHED, Arsenic Task Force, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, NEERI, Nagpur, IIEST, Shibpur, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, Jadavpur University, Kalyani University, etc, presented their papers. A no. of frontline industries dealing with water and waste water treatment particularly Arsenic & Fluoride removal, showcased their technologies.

Throughout the day various Scientific Sessions were held where experts, academicians and policy makers discussed on the various issues of arsenic and fluoride contamination. The mitigation strategies against arsenic and fluoride contamination of groundwater were also discussed.

Delivering the keynote address, Prof. Arup K Sengupta, Professor, Lehigh University, USA said, “The problem of water contaminated with arsenic is a highly serious issue. To combat this problem, we must look at alternative sources of water for villages and districts where the arsenic level is high. Transforming wastewater into useful water through appropriate technology could be implemented as a solution. Innovations in water reuse have not only led to water conservation and environmental benefits, but have reduced operating expenses and created water revenue. Transforming municipal wastewater into usable portable and industrial water is now occurring at 500 MLD at Orange County Water District in California.”

Prof. K J Nath, President, IPHE said in his presidential Address, “Arsenic in high quantities poses significant health hazard for people. Groundwater contamination is a hidden crisis. Despite the crisis, groundwater contamination either by arsenic or other pollutants like fluorides does not get the attention it deserves, it can only be countered by technological solutions, alternate sources of water and cooperation between various government and non-government bodies. The State Govt. in consultation with the Arsenic Task Force has drawn up a Master Plan for providing arsenic free water to all the affected areas. ” ” Most advanced and latest technologies have been used in the arsenic removal units attached to tube wells (approx. 400 nos) installed by the Govt of West Bengal. Many of them are having various kinds of operational problems. On the other hand, mega piped water schemes fed from arsenic free surface water sources (mostly the Ganges) are facing the problem of public vandalism, ” he added. ” In many places, the water mains are cut; pipe lines and valves are stolen. Unless strict vigilance is maintained by the law enforcing authorities and at the same time, effective mass awareness campaign is organized to sensitize the people. We urge the government to launch an extensive awareness programme. The lack of awareness is most unfortunate, people need to be made aware on water quality and alternative sources of water.. The progress has been slow because of financial crunch caused by decrease in Central assistance and the resource crunch has crippled the implementation of programmes, ” he stated.- (UNI)

*Original article online at https://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/India/20180103/3244078.html