Fluoride Action Network

High chemical content in drinking water causing alarm in Surpur

Source: The Hindu | August 6th, 2009 | By T V Sivanandan
Location: India

GULBARGA: The results of the laboratory test of the drinking water samples taken from all the villages in Surpur Taluk (population 3.36 lakhs)in Gulbarga district has some shocking revelations. A large number of drinking water sources contain high levels of harmful arsenic, nitrate and fluoride content.

The findings of the detailed laboratory tests conducted at the state-of-the-art laboratory at the State Mines and Geology Department at Bangalore that was submitted to the Gulbarga district administration and Zilla Panchayat show that 5.35 per cent of the ground water sources in Surpur taluk contain arsenic levels much higher than the permissible limits, 14.3 per cent of the drinking water sources contain very high levels of fluoride content and as much as 30.62 per cent of drinking water sources had a very high nitrate content.

While high arsenic content in the drinking water can cause skin disorders including skin cancers, the high presence of nitrate in the drinking water can cause cardiac diseases, blue baby syndrome among the children, kidney stone formation and diarrhoea, according to Dr K Vijaykumar, Professor in the Zoology Department in Gulbarga University. The presence of fluoride in drinking water higher than the permissible limits can cause dental and skeletal deformities and affect the bones in general.

A team of doctors led by oncologist-surgeon Sharad Tanga of the M.R medical College in Gulbarga detected an outbreak of a rare form of skin cancer in Kiradalli Tanda in the Surpur taluk six weeks ago. The cancer claimed the lives of four persons and has caused permanent disability to three persons who had to undergo amputation of their limbs to arrest the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. In addition more than 50 persons in the Tanda were in pre-malignant stage of cancer. These findings forced the district administration and the zilla panchayat to test of all the drinking water sources in taluk for taking remedial action.

Out of the total of 467 samples taken from ground water sources (borewells) in all the villages in the Surpur Taluk, as many 25 samples were found to contain higher arsenic levels than the permissible limit of 0.01 Mg per Litre. In Ammapur village one of the drinking water source had 1.00 Mg per litre of arsenic level. In another 66 samples the fluoride content was higher than the permitted levels of 1.5 Mg per Litre. Maddi Tanda in the taluk recorded 5.73 Mg of Nitrate per litre.

Similarly nitrate was very high in 143 samples with the highest level seen in Pet Ammapur village which had 734.44 Mg per litre. In their report, the officials of the Mines and Geology Department said that the probable causes for high arsenic in groundwater in the taluk may be attributed to the “lithology of the area – mineral composition of the local rock types containing Arsenic-bearing minerals such as Arseno-Pyrite etc, and the mining activity and discharge of mine dumps related to gold and copper mining in the vicinity of the area”.

Surpur taluk has a history of gold mining during the British period. There were mines in Mangalure village in the taluk. The Hutti Gold Mines in Raichur is in close proximity to Surpur taluk.