The State government has directed the Chief Executive Officers of Raichur and Yadgir zilla panchayats to seal over 100 borewells in 63 villages where the arsenic level in groundwater is higher than the permissible limit, by June 30.

Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H.K. Patil told presspersons on Friday that water in 44 villages in Manvi, Lingsugur, Deodurga and Sindhanur taluks of Raichur district, and 19 villages in Surpur taluk of Yadgir district, has arsenic content more than the permissible limit of 0.05 mg per litre. “It is dangerous to drink water with that much arsenic content,” he said.

UNICEF, Samuha (an NGO), and the zilla panchayats conducted a survey to ascertain the arsenic level in sources of drinking water in two districts. Alternative measures are being worked out to supply potable water to people residing in villages, said the Minister, who visited 10 villages in Raichur and inspected the quality of water.

Mr. Patil said the government has sanctioned Rs. 1 crore to set up a central laboratory for water testing in Raichur to test water samples periodically for arsenic. It would also regularly monitor water quality in various parts of the district to ensure water consumed by the people is arsenic-free.

“I am shocked to see such a high level of arsenic in the groundwater. I have told CEOs to drill borewells in places where there is no arsenic content,” he said. The CEOs of Raichur and Yadgir have been instructed to make arrangements to supply water in tankers. Permission has been given to sink new borewells in other places and to test water before supplying it.

Steps would be taken to supply drinking water from surface water projects in two districts. As two rivers — the Krishna and the Tungabhdra — pass through Raichur district, there is a need to find a source from those rivers and distributory canals, he said.

Survey

Asked whether the department would check water quality in other parts of the State, experts would be consulted to conduct a quick survey to check water quality in other districts. “Our commitment is to give potable water to areas where such problems exist,” he said.

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