Fluoride Action Network

Contamination a bigger challenge for govt

Source: The Times of India | March 22nd, 2015 | BY Jaideep Deogharia & Kelly Kislaya
Location: India

RANCHI: Controlling contamination of underground water is a major challenge that authorities in different districts face.

Recent reports show that the underground water in Jharkhand has iron, fluoride and arsenic contents that often make water unsuitable for consumption.

But the contamination threat is increasing with the surface water level getting contaminated due to unregulated disposal of wastes, which include factory effluents and sewerage discharge.

When Mohd Kaleem of Patthalkudwa in Ranchi saw that members of his family developed spots on the skin and each one of them lost over 15 kg weight, he approached a doctor, who after preliminary check-up advised him to send the drinking water for testing.

Mohd Kaleem sent a sample to the laboratory of the drinking water and sanitation department, at Hinoo. The result showed very high content of arsenic.

State coordinator for water quality, Vivek Singh Chauhan, said, “The arsenic content in water should not be above 0.05 milligram per litre but the arsenic content found in the water of Pathalkudwa was 10 times more, which is 0.5 mg/lt.”

The state government has recently started a mission to clean up seasonal Harmu river flowing through Ranchi.

At the launch of the Clean Harmu River project, chief minister Raghubar Das expressed commitment of his government to bring life back to all water bodies so that the unknown reason for groundwater contamination is contained to a certain level. The government also plans to install filtration plants after getting reports on water quality from all districts.

“The quality of ground water in shallow aquifers, like open well and shallow hand-pumps, is better than water drawn from deep aquifers like tubewells,” said retired director of ground water directorate, SLS Jageshwar, who had conducted a survey in 10 districts.

While working as an expert with Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), which finances the horticulture intensification project in Jharkhand, Jageshwar came across the shocking fact that the iron and fluoride content is much higher in deepwater than in shallow water.

The research was conducted in 10 districts — Godda, Pakur, Lohardagga, Palamu, Hazaribagh, Dumka, Ranchi, Khunti, Gumla and West Singhbhum — and it was found that excessive iron and fluoride problems are in Godda, Lohardaga, Palamu, Dumka and Khunti.

According to the report, the highest level of iron in shallow water source was 0.34 mg/l in Godda and Pakur while the level of iron in deep tube well is highest in Khunti which is 7.27 mg/l. Similarly, the highest level of fluoride in shallow water bodies is 0.65 mg/l in Godda while highest in deep water sources is 2.91 mg/l in Khunti.