Excessive salt, fluoride render thousands of others useless

BHOPAL : Falling underground water table has rendered more than 22,000 hand-pumps in the state defunct. Other factors like presence of fluoride, excessive iron and salt in the water drawn from hand pumps have exacerbated the problem.

Around 19,000 habitations in the state are without any source of drinking water. In the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe habitations in the year 2014 and 2015 the PHE department has arranged 12,424 water sources, but in the year 2015 and 2016 the number fell by half to 6,382. In the state 2436 Nal-Jal Yojana are lying closed due various reasons and in the coming summer season the situation may become worse.

The hand pumps in 27 districts are affected due to excessive fluoride and it has affected a population of around 1.27 lakh. If the presence of fluoride in drinking water is more than 1.5 milligram per litre, it becomes unfit for human consumption.  The department claims that it has provided alternative water sources in the affected area but when the summer heat increases and the alternative water sources dried ups the villagers starts using the water.

The salty water problem is also affecting 799 villages of 15 districts of the state, the salt water contains more than 2000 milligram minerals per litre is not good for drinking purpose.

The alternative water sources have started drying up and the people have started using impure water. Similarly, in 596 habitations of 12 districts, the water is affected due to excessive iron. The department has provided alternative water sources to 120 habitations but the remaining ones will have to use the contaminated water.

Over the last three years, from 2013 to 2016 the department has dug only 25,052 hand-pumps in the state, which are too less, given the enormity of the water crisis of the summer season.

According to water conservation experts, the best way to solve the problem of water scarcity is water harvesting. He said that stop dams must be built on nullahs and rivers to retain water.  It is alleged that the department is focusing on digging bore wells, which is burdening the state exchequer but is not producing results.