‘Groundwater in most states contaminated’
Groundwater in most of the states is contaminated -- it either contains fluoride or nitrate, posing a threat to life. Union Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sanwar Lal Jat, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Thursday, said that groundwater in 20 states is contaminated by fluoride and by nitrate in 21 states – in excess to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
The groundwater quality data, released by the ministry, is based on various scientific studies and groundwater quality monitoring by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).
According to guidelines, values for contaminants recommended by the WHO (2011) for drinking water standards, fluoride should not be more than 1.5 mg/l and nitrate should not be over 50 mg/l. The Bureau of Indian Standards’ (BIS) limit for fluoride is the same and for nitrate, it is 45 mg/l against 50 mg/l as prescribed by the WHO.
According to a report submitted in the Lok Sabha, the groundwater quality monitoring indicates that apart from fluoride and nitrate, 10 states have excess concentration of arsenic, 24 have higher concentration of iron and 15 have excess heavy metals such as lead, chromium and cadmium -- beyond the norms prescribed by the BIS-2012.
It further stated that all states have been advised to provide piped water supply from alternate safe sources to all water quality-affected habitations with priority to cover fluoride and arsenic-affected areas. Also, states have been told to utilise up to 67 per cent of the funds released under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) for improving the quality of ground and surface water.