Drinking water in 44 Raichur and 19 Yadgir villages is contaminated by the toxic chemical

Hundreds of people across 44 villages in Raichur district and 19 villages of Yadgir district are drinking water contaminated by the deadly toxic chemical, arsenic.

However, in the absence of alternative sources of water, people in these villages are forced to use the polluted water with arsenic content above the safe limit of 0.05 ppm.

Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H.K. Patil recently ordered that by June 30 alternative drinking water should be provided to these villages.

A week after the deadline expired, The Hindu found that people in Raichur district continue to drink the same contaminated water, and the Minister’s directive has remained rhetorical.

Ooty, a village in Devadurga taluk, Raichur district, has two open wells and three borewells. Except one borewell drilled a year ago, the others have an arsenic content of 0.086 ppm. And, the one safe borewell is not sufficient to cater to all the people.

At Vandali in Devadurga taluk, all five borewells have arsenic content as high as 0.273 ppm. “Officials for the last three years have been telling us not to drink arsenic contaminated water. But they have not made alternative arrangements,” says Balappa, a resident.

At Nilogal in Lingsugur taluk of Raichur district, five of the six borewells have arsenic content to the extent of 0.094 ppm. People are forced to drink the contaminated water as the one safe borewell cannot cater to all people.

“Officials have advised us since 2009 not to drink this water. But, there is no alternative drinking water. So, we have no option,” says M.S. Nayak, a resident.

Not just that, people are told not to drink the arsenic contaminated water, but the piped water supplied to the villages too is contaminated by arsenic. Borewells at Pamanakallur village in Manvi taluk have arsenic to the extent of 0.099 ppm. The zilla panchayat, UNICEF, and SAMUHA, an NGO working on the problem, have jointly opened a unit to remove arsenic content from drinking water.

Arsenic-free water is sold to people at Rs. 2 a can of 20 litres. Around 20 households among 500 buy this, while the rest make do with arsenic-contaminated water.

Chief Executive Officer of Raichur Zilla Panchayat, Mr. Gnana Prakash, claims that the arsenic-contaminated water sources have been shut.

“Safe drinking water is being supplied from today,” he told The Hindu on Wednesday.

“Supplying safe water to the people through tanks cannot be a permanent solution. The surface water must be recharged. The two rivers, Krishna and Tungabhadra, should be better used to source safe water,” says S.S. Ghanti, Assistant Director of SAMUHA.

Arsenic is a chemical found deep inside the earth. It is usually found in areas with gold deposits. Ground water deep inside the earth is prone to be contaminated with arsenic.

Using arsenic-contaminated food or water leads to skin ailments, early aging, and death.

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