GUWAHATI – Experts taking part in an awareness function here today called for a thorough survey to determine the health of the groundwater reserve of the city and steps to keep a constant watch on it. They also laid emphasis on depending on surface water to meet the water demands of the city and making rainwater harvesting mandatory to keep the groundwater table vigorous. The function was organised by the Directorate of Geology and Mining of the State Government at the District Library Auditorium here.
Significantly, it was disclosed by some experts at the function, which was inaugurated by State Minister of Mines and Minerals Girindra Mallik, that besides fluoride contamination, various intensities of arsenic, lead, cobalt, mercury, uranium, etc., contamination of city groundwater are found in laboratory tests conducted by Gauhati University (GU) scientists on 120 groundwater samples collected from various parts of the city.
Addressing the function, senior GU professor of Hydrogeology Dr Amal Dutta Patgiri warned that the practice of drawing water from the static groundwater reserve is fraught with the danger of damaging this reserve of groundwater. He suggested that only such an amount of groundwater should be extracted which may be replenished.
Days may come when the Government will have to rationalise the use of groundwater. It is necessary that the Government should constitute a team of experts to conduct surveys from time to time to determine where the groundwater table lies and what is its quality, he said.
Former chief engineer of the Public Health Engineering Department of the State, Amalendu Bikash Paul said in his presentation that the bed rock of Guwahati is responsible for fluoride contamination of its groundwater at many places. So far, Hatigaon and Rukminigaon areas of the city are found to be having the worst fluoride-contaminated groundwater reserve, he said.
There is the need of coordinated efforts involving public health engineers, doctors and geologists among others to ascertain the city groundwater quality after every six months and people should always be kept informed about the quality of groundwater in their respective areas. In this respect, civil society organisations may also play a vital role, he said.
Former scientist of the Central Groundwater Board Dr Swapna Devi said fluoride contamination of groundwater may be found only in those areas where the fluorapetite veins are present. Calling for urgent steps to make rainwater harvesting mandatory for the city residents, she also urged the authorities concerned to initiate steps to check wastage of water.
Dr Krishna Gopal Bhattacharyya, senior GU professor of Chemistry, said that while testing 120 groundwater samples collected from various places of the city, eleven were found by the GU scientists to be contaminated with fluoride. He also maintained that arsenic, lead, cobalt, mercury, radium, uranium, etc., contamination are also found in some of these samples.
The function was also addressed by geologist and columnist Arpan Dutta.