NHRC issues notice to Bihar govt on groundwater contamination


PATNA: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday took suo motu cognizance of a media report arising out of the latest Bihar Economic Survey that said groundwater in 36 out of the total 38 districts of the state is partially or excessively contaminated with Arsenic, Fluoride and Iron.

The survey report said around 47.3 lakh households, located in 30,272 wards, have been affected due to chemically contaminated groundwater. 4,742 rural habitations of 14 districts situated along the Ganges are affected by arsenic, 3,791 rural wards of 11 districts by fluoride and 9 in the Koshi basin and 2 others along Ganga have excessive iron.

A senior NHRC functionary said that the commission issued notices to the state’s chief secretary and the secretary of public health and engineering department (PHED) and asked them to reply within six weeks as what steps they have initiated to mitigate the sufferings of the people residing in these areas.

The commission noted that it was a serious issue of human rights violation, if the media reports are true. “The contamination of drinking water could cause serious health hazards including, among others, liver and kidney related problems.

The notice categorically said that the government’s reply should include safety measures taken to provide potable water in those districts and also provide status report on implementation of the scheme under ‘Har-Ghar-Jal-Nal’ scheme. It also directed the Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) to submit a report on the random sampling of groundwater of different areas.

According to the survey report, part of the districts like Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Bhojpur, Buxar,Darbjanga, Katihar, Khagaria, Lakhisarai, Munger, Samastipur, Saran, Sitamarhi, Patna and Vaishali are affected due to arsenic. Flouride contents are being found in water samples of Aurangabad, Banka, Bhagalpur, Gaya, Jamui, Kaimur, Munger, Nalanda, Rohtas, Sheikhpura and Nawada. The districts of Araria, Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Katihar, Khagaria, Kishanganj, Madhepura, Munger, Purnia, Saharsa and Supaul are affected by excess iron contents.

A senior PHED officer said that the government was sensitive towards the issues of groundwater contamination and hence launched a major drive to arrange potable water for the residents of the affected areas. “The ward-wise schemes depending up on the type of contamination were formulated and 29,335 projects have been completed so far. A population of around 46.12 lakh households have been benefitted from it,” the officer said.

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