Article courtesy of Correspondent | July 17, 2014 | The Assam Tribune | Shared as educational material
Arsenic contamination in drinking water is posing a serious threat to Majuli which is suspected to be the principal cause of serious illnesses like cancer in many areas of the river island.
A recent scientific investigation done by the officials from the State public health engineering (PHE) department has detected hazardous quantity (beyond permissible limit) of arsenic in drinking water used by the people of certain rural areas like Chitadar, Bokora, Karatipar, Silakola, Bormukoli.
“Yes, arsenic has been detected beyond its permissible limit in certain areas. When the arsenic quantity is either 0.05 mg or more in a litre of water, it crosses the permissible limit. Recently, arsenic was found in four water samples out of total 43,” said an official of the PHE department in Majuli.
The latest findings reveal that 0.069 mg arsenic per litre of drinking water was detected in a Bokora residence, while 0.08 mg and 0.059 mg of arsenic were found in Bormukoli and Karatipar areas respectively. Indeed several areas are yet to be included in the 20 gallon panchyats of the river island.
Though the department’s officials claimed that they earlier blocked the tubewells of the arsenic-contaminated water in many areas, locals alleged that the government officials did not do anything worthwhile as the people are still using the groundwater in many areas that might have arsenic contamination.
Expressing concern over the problem, many sensitive citizens have demanded necessary action from the State Government as they witnessed no practical measures implemented in the villages where the groundwater is suspected to be contaminated.
“In 2008, the hazardous contamination of arsenic was detected in several areas of this river island. People in many areas were not restricted from drinking the contaminated water. Officials neither started any awareness campaign nor provided them with pure drinking water in those areas,” said Amlan Deep Bora, who submitted a memorandum to the SDO (Civil) of Majuli recently.
Though 17 water supply schemes were launched in Majuli, the people in most of the areas are still being deprived of adequate drinking water facilities as many of them even do not know the benefit of these government schemes, he said.
Meanwhile, several senior citizens have joined Bora to demand examination of watersamples in the remaining areas of the river island so that the people can get the accurate information about the quality of drinking water in their localities.
However, the PHE department’s officials said that they have started another two schemes recently to reduce the scarcity of drinking water in Majuli. According to the officials, construction works in another five schemes are undergoing while the two new schemes were given administrative approval.
“As the poisonous contamination has been detected during the recent survey, the administration has decided to include all the 20 gaon panchayats of Majuli for investigation that has been started since Tuesday. As we recently got all the necessary equipment for examining the water samples, we will definitely get an accurate result on the groundwater quality of Majuli,” a PHE official said.