PATNA: State public health and engineering department (PHED) minister Vinod Narayan Jha on Monday promised safe drinking water (fluoride, iron and arsenic-free tap water) to all people in the state by 2020.
Addressing the inaugural session of the three-day seminar on ‘Groundwater quality management in developing countries: The emerging challenge’ organized by the geology department of Patna Science College to mark the centenary celebration of Patna University (PU), Jha said, “The department has set up a stall at Sonepur fair for people to know whether the water they are consuming at their household is contaminated or not.” He urged people to get the water of their locality tested in lab or at the Sonepur fair, which will end on December 4.
PU vice-chancellor Rash Bihari Prasad Singh, pro-VC Dr Dolly Sinha and Central Groundwater Board regional director A K Agarwal were also present on the occasion.
Quoting a study conducted by his department, Jha said 20,507 wards under 1,029 panchayats in state have poor quality underground water. “The government has planned multi-village water supply projects in 200 arsenic-affected villages in Buxar, Vaishali and Patna districts. There are 13 districts with high level of arsenic contamination in groundwater. Out of 961 arsenic affected wards, tenders have been floated for 590 in the first phase,” he said.
Jha said 4,510 wards in Rohtas, Kaimur, Gaya, Aurangabad, Nawada, Nalanda, Munger, Sheikhpura, Jamui, Banka and Bhagalpur have been identified as fluoride-affected. “Work has started in 1,000 fluoride-affected wards and tenders for other wards have been floated to provide fluoride-free tap water,” he said.
He asked the university to share the findings of the seminar and the department would finance any unique project to improve the quality of potable water.
The participants in the seminar include authority on arsenic problem, Dipankar Chakraborty from Jadhavpur University, groundwater expert Tizri Taheri from Iran, Indian Science Congress Association sectional president (earth sciences) A K Sinha from Rajasthan, Department of Science and Technology adviser Arabinda Mitra, Dhananjay Kumar from the US, Gyanesh Bhatnagar from Oman, Rajendra Dahal from Nepal and experts from Central Ground Water Board, Geological Survey of India, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Haryana Space Application Centre and Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research.