SUBJECT : Water

LARGEST REGION OF PUNJAB IS WORST HIT, BUT LATEST STUDY REVEALS MAJHA AND DOABA TOO AFFECTED

Uranium content into Punjab’s groundwater has spread beyond Malwa into several pockets of the other two regions, Doaba and Majha, as well, according to a recent report of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) submitted to the state department of water supply.

Water samples were taken from 5,659 villages from 200-500ft depth and sent to the Mumbaiheadquartered BARC for testing by the department some months ago. Reports received three weeks ago have said that 1,007 villages have breached the limit of 30 micrograms per litre set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Of these, 297 villages go even beyond the limit of 60 micrograms set by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) of India.

While the WHO breach is seen across the state, most villages crossing the 60 mark are from districts of Malwa, including Moga, Barnala, Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Bathinda, Fazilka, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib and Sangrur. Some cross the 200 mark.

But, this is the first time that a study has found uranium above limits in the water of Doaba and Majha. A village from Doaba’s Kapurthala district, Farid Rai, is on the above-60 list.

Reasons have not been pinpointed expressly though people in Malwa, a region that sees high incidence of cancer caused by radiation, have blamed this on pesticides. No definitive study on that is available yet.

In Doaba, Jalandhar’s six villages of Bhogpur block, and one each in Lohian, Nurmahal and Shahkot are above the WHO mark. Six villages in Nawanshahr are on this list too, while cases have come from Hoshiarpur too.

In Majha, one village in Majitha block of Amritsar, and three in Gurdaspur have the problem. Tarn Taran’s 11 villages are affected from among those studied.

An official of the water supply department said reverse osmosis (RO) as a filtration method can remove such impurities from drinking water.



Source: 16 January 2015, Hindustan Times