20 Uttar Pradesh districts have high arsenic in ground water

March 7th, 2008 - 7:57 pm ICT by admin  

Lucknow, March 7 (IANS) As many as 20 districts of Uttar Pradesh have alarmingly high arsenic content in the groundwater and the state government is at its wits’ end on ways to clean up the affected sources or to prevent further pollution. The startling revelation was made by a survey the state government and UNICEF conducted recently. More districts may be added to the list as results of tests in 31 districts are awaited.

These facts were revealed by state Rural Development Minister Daddu Prasad in the assembly Wednesday in reply to a question raised by Hindu Mahasabha legislator Radha Mohan Aggarwal.

“We are not aware of any technique which can stop arsenic in groundwater or to clean the affected water,” Abrar Hussain, regional director of the Central Ground Water Board, told IANS.

With no concrete solutions in sight, the state government is employing simple methods like deeper digging for water and filtration techniques. When this fails, preventive measures like putting a red cross mark on the pump supplying water with arsenic content is resorted to.

The worst affected districts are Ballia, Lakhimpur Kheri, Bahraich, Chandauli, Ghazipur, Gorakhpur, Basti, Siddarthnagar, Balrampur, Sant Kabir Nagar, Unnao, Bareilly and Moradabad.

Close on their heels are Rae Bareli, Mirzapur, Bijnore, Meerut, Sant Ravidas Nagar, Shahjahanpur and Gonda. They all have arsenic content above .05 parts per billion (ppb) in the groundwater.

Arsenic content above .05 ppb in water is considered toxic and can cause lung and skin cancer. It can also affect the kidneys, liver and the nervous system.

State officials are also not aware of the cause of the high arsenic content.

“Other than Noida, almost the whole of Uttar Pradesh has arsenic in its groundwater. Though Jadhavpur University and other institutes are involved (in finding the reason), it is not clear why this region is affected,” M.M. Ansari, director of Uttar Pradesh’s groundwater directorate, told IANS.

Arsenic gets into the water from natural deposits in the earth or from industrial and agricultural pollution, according to studies by the Natural Resources Defence Council, a US-based group.

Since the affected districts are not industrialised, some officials feel pesticides could be the source of arsenic.

Now Industrial Toxicological Research Institute, Lucknow, and IIT-Kanpur have also been roped in to find a solution to this problem.

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