VADODARA: The check dam over Mahisagar River at Sindhrot has been helpful in providing freshwater to Barodians, but this same check dam has become a bane for 23 villages settled near Mini River due to the high level of salinity in it. Mini River, a narrow tributary, merges with Mahisagar downstream of the check dam.
Due to the check dam, the freshwater flow is hampered and sea water comes right up to the check dam and also enters Mini River during high tides. A study conducted by city-based Gujarat Ecology Society (GES) shows that because of this phenomenon the water in Mini River has turned saline and it has impacted the groundwater in these 23 villages.
The members of biodiversity management committees in these villages had often complained of getting polluted water from hand pumps and bore-wells in their villages, following which the research institute conducted a pre-monsoon and post-monsoon study last year. The study revealed alarming results.
“The level of TDS (total dissolved solids) and fluoride are much beyond the maximum limits in the groundwater making it unusable for drinking and other purposes,” said Dr Deepa Gavali, in-charge director of GES.
Water can be used for drinking only if the TDS level and fluoride level in it are below 500 milligram per litre and one milligram per litre. Even for irrigation purposes, the water is not usable since the TDS level should be below 1,000 milligram per litre for farming. All 23 villages have a reverse-osmosis (RO) plant installed by Water and Sanitation Management Organization (WASMO) of state government. But the RO plant cannot remove the fluoride content from water.
Medical experts say that the high levels of fluoride and TDS lead to health problems in citizens. While the high level of fluoride affects teeth and bones, the high level of TDS leads to liver and kidney problems. “Often residents of our village and surrounding villages complain of kidney stone problem. It was only a fortnight ago that 60 residents suffered from diarrhoea and vomiting due to contaminated water,” said Ashok Nizama, president of Sindhrot village’s bio-diversity committee.
“Over the years, the quality of water has deteriorated so much that even the post-monsoon study showed little difference in water quality,” Gavali added. Explaining the study, Gavali said, “During monsoon, the groundwater is recharged with new inflow improving the water quality, but in these villages there is very little change.”
Village residents and members of village biodiversity committees also blame the industries at Ranoli and Nandesari, which are near the Mini River, for polluting the groundwater.
The high level of contamination in groundwater of 23 villages lying in the north and north-west areas of the city, has made it unusable. With no other source of drinking water, several of these villages are turning to purchased water. Sindhrot village alone, where there are around 2,000 households, residents are spending Rs 600 every month to buy packaged water from different water supplying agencies.