PCBA can't shrug off its responsibility: CAG
Fluoride and arsenic contamition in water on some city areas more than permissible limits
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Sept 11: Can the Pollution Control Board, Assam (PCBA) shrug its responsibility off abatement of water pollution and restoration of the wholesomeness of the water quality in Guwahati? The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, however, says that the PCBA cannot.
Assam suffers from severe shortage of water from January to March, leading to dependence on ground water in many areas, especially in areas where there are no public water supply systems. This, according to the CAG, has created a new dimension to the water problem as lowering of water level bears the risk of water coming into contact with rocks containing arsenic and fluoride which get introduced into water when water flows through them.
The permissible limits for human consumption of fluoride and arsenic contamition in water, according to the CAG report, are 1 mg/l and 10 mu g/l respectively. The CAG report further says that excessive Fluoride content on water causes a multiplicity of ill effects for human beings such as fluorosis, osteoporosis, arthritis, hip fractures, cancer, infertility, thyroid disorder, brain damage, Alzheimer’s disease and polydypsia as evident from the project report on arsenic and fluoride in ground water carried out by the PCBA itself. Similarly, arsenic has been recognized as a human toxin and carcinogen is of potential public concern. Long-term overexposure to arsenic causes chronic arsenic poisoning which can cause skin disorders (pigmentation disorders, kurtosis, skin cancer etc.)
The PCBA carried out the study of estimation of Arsenic and Fluoride content in ground water of 11 districts of Assam.
It was observed in the audit that in Greater Guwahati area, while fluoride content is more than the permissible limit in 17 of 122 water samples, arsenic content is more than the permissible limit in two of 122 water samples. However, the CAG report said, despite the adverse alysis report, the PCBA had not prepared any action plan for remedial measures to be taken.
In its reply in April 2016, the PCBA said that presence of both arsenic and fluoride in ground water may be generated due to mineral content in underground rock/soil. “It is not under the scope the Board to improve the quality of ground water, unless there is some visible cause of deterioration from the surface,” the PCBA said.
The CAG, however, said: “The reply of the PCBA is not teble as it doesn’t indicate if any action has been taken on its own findings, since under the Water Act, the PCBA is the regulatory body responsible for abatement of water pollution and restoration of the wholesomeness of the water quality, and it therefore, required to prepare scientific action plan for preservation, protection and conservation.”