New Delhi: Are we drinking poisoned water? According to data submitted in Parliament, groundwater across 25 states is contaminated with chemicals beyond permissible limits, and this may cause severe health complications.
Dangerous levels of fluorides, nitrates and heavy metals like lead have been found in pockets of 158 districts across 25 states. The information is according to the latest data with the Ministry of Water Resources, tabled in Parliament.
"It is because of excessive withdrawal, pesticide use and indiscriminate waste. High levels of heavy metals can cause adverse heath effects like kidney problems, digestive and respiratory problems, high BP," said Ravi Agarwal, director, Toxics Link.
The more worrying bit is that only 65 per cent of water in Delhi is processed by the authorities like the Delhi Jal Board but even they dont treat the water for these contaminants.
In Maharashtra, ground water in many villages has almost dried up.
According to the groundwater water authority in Maharashtra, the main reason is over-withdrawal of ground water and lack of recharge. And the groundwater that is supplied is not treated.
Meanwhile, in Punjab, the green revolution that made India self sufficient in food supplies was brought about with powerful chemical fertilisers, pesticides, and herbicides amongst others. And these came with a toxic consequence.
A study by Punjabi University has found DNA damage in farmers spraying pesticides and herbicides. A second study found widespread contamination of drinking water with pesticide chemicals and heavy metals, linked to cancer and other life-threatening ailments.
Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh also face a huge problem of industrial waste.
"Dumping of industrial waste should attract criminal punishment but no one does anything and that's why this will continue," said Leo Saldanha, coordinator, Environment Support Group, Karnataka.
As Parliament debates the waste of water, there's no clarity on how to tackle the problem.