NEW DELHI, Jan 30 – In a significant development, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued show cause notices to the Chief Secretaries of 27 States, including Assam and neighbouring NE States, calling for a detailed report on the steps taken to address the problem of fluorosis in drinking water. They have been given six weeks to respond.
The Commission’s directions followed a presentation by the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation before it on January 20, on the problem of fluorosis in various States and short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions for mitigating the problem of contamination in drinking water.
According to the presentation made by the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, the problem of fluorosis is acute in some other States, where more than 100 habitations are affected. These are Bihar, Karnataka, Odisha, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Assam, Haryana, Uttaranchal, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
The Commission had taken suo motu cognizance of a media report alleging fluoride above permissible levels in drinking water in 14,132 habitations in 19 States and had asked the Secretary, Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to make a presentation on the gravity of the problem and the steps taken by the Central and various State governments to combat it.
The Ministry informed that the National Rural Drinking Water Programme had been launched to provide every rural person with adequate safe water for drinking, cooking and other domestic needs on a sustainable basis.
The Indian Council for Medical Research also made a presentation on the contributions of the Council in the field of fluorosis, sources said.
A survey showed that 18 districts in Assam have become prone to arsenic and fluoride contamination, alarming the Centre.