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Updated: March 21, 2013 12:43 IST

In muddied waters

Sushil Raghav
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Needed: Safe water. Photo: K.R. Deepak
The Hindu
Needed: Safe water. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Efforts by the Pollution Control Board to improve groundwater quality in Ghaziabad have proved futile so far

The contamination of groundwater in and around Ghaziabad’s industrial areas has become a cause of concern, apart from reports of its fast deteriorating air quality. All remediation efforts to improve the groundwater quality have so far been futile, say residents of the area.

Efforts by an expert committee set up by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) and the Ghaziabad District Magistrate to improve groundwater quality in Sahibabad Industrial Area, Lohia Nagar and in colonies adjoining Hindon River has proved to be unsuccessful for last one year.

So far, over Rs. 12 crore has been spent without any substantial result; chromium that mixes with groundwater and turns it into red or dark brown is still found in same concentration as one year ago, said water experts Vikrant Sharma and Vijaypal Baghel, who have been actively campaigning for improving groundwater quality in Sahibabad area as a large section of population still depend on polluted groundwater for their daily use.

Explaining why there has been no major success in the project, they said it cannot be purified as the water inside the earth flows in streams and removing it would also lead to shrinking of water table.

In 2001, deep bore wells started belching red coloured water in Lohia Nagar, exposing residents to alarming levels of contamination. The residents complained about dumping of untreated water by at least four industries just two km away from the colony.

Former State Minister Rajpal Tyagi said that even his letters on the issue to the UPPCB and the district administration went unnoticed. “All my letters were thrown in the dustbin…I then raised the issue in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly in 2001, after which a committee was constituted by the member secretary of UPPCB for action to be taken,” he said.

One solution adopted by the industries was to remove all contaminated groundwater, but it led to depletion in groundwater level.

According to UPPCB Regional Manager T.U. Khan, some tanneries and factories manufacturing pistons and bearings had discharged untreated water which percolated into the ground, thus polluting groundwater. Later, the UPPCB officials sealed all the deep bore wells in C-Block of Lohia Nagar and took samples of hand-pump water and bore wells. The test report proved that there was chromium in the groundwater beyond the permissible limit and the water was declared unfit for drinking. A plant was then set up by the polluting industries following a UPPCB order. However, current test reports show that chromium level has not been reduced to the extent of permissible limit.

Sachin Soni, a resident of Lohia Nagar, said the exposure to contaminated groundwater was causing severe ailments to poor residents who cannot afford to purchase water from private tankers.

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