Industrial waste contamination plagues groundwater in Peenya

Shivapura-Nalakadarenahalli lake is so polluted with chemical effluents and sewage that the water has been deemed unfit for even industrial use.   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

The wide roads of Peenya industrial estate give way to small congested lanes of Shivapura. A borewell stuck on the side of the road is a critical source of water. Shantha points at a large mug that she uses to wash her clothes on the pavement. The water has a thin layer of whitish froth while sediments float around the mug.

“We definitely can’t drink this water. It has grease, oil, chemicals and is acidic. When we use it for cooking, vessels turn white,” says Shantha, who jokes that using this water for a bath ‘bleaches’ the skin and makes one fairer.

While they get piped Cauvery water supply, the community borewell is a critical part of their water intake. Her husband Krishnamurthy says that though the civic body has started supplying water from a new borewell, dug a few feet from their house, its motor has already stopped functioning. “The water has corroded the pipes while sediments have clogged the motor,” he says.

Water not fit even for industrial use

Set amidst the industries, some of which use chemicals, Peenya has very visible signs of industrial contamination. Karihobanahalli lake and Shivapura-Nalakadarenahalli lakes are so polluted with chemical effluents and sewage that the water has been deemed unfit for even industrial use. Now, there are signs that this contamination may have seeped into the groundwater, which is drawn from 800-feet-deep borewells.

Jayaram Shetty, who lives close to Peenya Phase II, says 90% of the residents have stopped using borewell water for drinking purposes.

Industrial waste contamination plagues groundwater in Peenya

The anecdotal evidence points to a larger problem, which two professors from the Department of Biotechnology at Sapthagiri College of Engineering sought to quantify. They took samples from borewells and open wells at Peenya Phase III and Phase IV where metal and textile units are found aplenty.

Of the samples tested, 40% were found to be acidic while almost all samples were above the permissible limits for hardness. In 33 physical and chemical parameters, the samples were above permissible levels in at least 22, and the samples contained chemicals such as manganese, lead, iron, nickel and zinc. The water, in effect, was unfit for consumption.

“There will be an impact on health if one consumes this water for a prolonged time. There is no doubt that industrial effluent has seeped into the groundwater,” says Blessy B.M., a professor at Sapthagiri college who, along with her colleague N.B. Krishnamurthy, authored the study.

The study was one part in a series that looks at how microbes react to lead in groundwater. “We found two species of bacteria that had absorbed the lead. Perhaps, a network of this bacteria can at least reduce the lead content,” she says.

Malyadri Reddy M., president, Peenya Industrial Area Association, says that the construction of a Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CEPT) would effectively ensure no effluent is let out untreated. The ₹15 crore project has yet to start. “Industries can directly take the effluents to the CEPT and ensure rivers, lakes or groundwater are not polluted. Currently, they give the water to private tankers at ₹7 per litre,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 21, 2021 8:17:14 AM |

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