Fluorides, nitrates, arsenic, iron polluting groundwater in India

New Delhi, Nov 30: Fluorides, nitrates, arsenic and iron have been found above the optimum levels in the groundwater of 370, 423, 154 and 341 districts of the country, respectively, the Parliament was informed on Monday.

The groundwater in 92 districts of 14 states is partially affected with lead, which can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels, while the salinity of groundwater was above the permissible limits in 249 districts of 18 states, Minister of State for Jal Shakti, Bishveswar Tudu, told the Rajya Sabha.

Cadmium and chromium were found in groundwater of 24 districts in nine states and in 29 districts of 10 states, respectively.

Among all the states, Punjab is severely affected by both the contaminants as 10 of 22 districts in the state are partially affected by chromium while cadmium has now spread to 9 of its districts.

As groundwater pollution poses a major risk to human life by being an important source of freshwater, Tudu listed out various initiatives taken by the Central government in the past few years to tackle the problem.

He said that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in association with State Pollution Control Boards and Pollution Control Committees (SPCBs/PCCs) is implementing the provisions of the Water (Prevention & Control) Act, 1974 and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to prevent and control pollution in water.

The CPCB has made a comprehensive programme on water pollution for controlling point sources by developing industry specific standards and general standards for discharge of effluents notified under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for enforcement by SPCBs/PCCs.

As per the directives of the CPCB, online continuous effluent monitoring systems are installed by the industrial units in the country for getting real time information on the effluent quality and non-complying units are identified for follow-up inspections and actions.

The Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has issued guidelines for control and regulation of groundwater extraction with pan-India applicability. The guidelines include suitable provisions on measures to be adopted to ensure groundwater free from pollution.

The groundwater pollution owe its origin to contamination of surface water sources also which upon percolation pollute the groundwater aquifer system and therefore, various efforts have been made in the country to address this by installing sewage treatment plants, effluent treatment plants and better systems of sewage networks etc.

Tudu said that the Central government in partnership with states, is implementing the Jal Jeevan Mission since August 2019 to provide potable tap water supply of prescribed quality to every rural household in the country by 2024.