Industrial effluents poison groundwater


GHAZIABAD: Ghaziabad’s underground water, the only source of drinking water in the area, is being contaminated and these toxic wastes are spreading to all parts of the city.

And, as UP Pollution Control Board officials admit, with underground water streams travelling scores of kilometres, the poisoning of Delhi’s groundwater with industrial effluents, cannot be ruled out.

The Times of India had earlier reported the serious contamination of the city’s groundwater south of GT Road Industrial area and in Sahibabad. But in the latest case, about 10 km from either of these sites, industrial effluents have been found in the water supplied to the Meerut Road area, though local residents remain unaware.

Said Sangram Singh, who runs a gaushala (cattle shelter) in the area, ‘‘Yellow and smelly water used to come from the taps till some months ago. Then we complained. Now it only has a light yellow tinge. And there have been no complaints of vomiting’’.

Suspecting that chromium might account for the slight yellow tinge, this paper had the water tested for the heavy metal. The chromium content was found to be 0.48 mg per litre, while the maximum permissible limit is 0.1 mg per litre.

This means that the chromium content is nearly five times over the safe limit. Chromium has been found to be carcinogenic by several studies.

Asked for comments, Ghaziabad UPPCB chief T U Khan said: ‘‘Chromium can be harmful. So we will have tests conducted and then take relevant action.’’

In December 1998, this paper had reported the city’s first known case of untreated industrial effluents being pumped directly into the groundwater.

Following the report, the Central Ground Water Board had declared all of Ghaziabad a ‘‘sensitive area’’ and the district magistrate directed that anyone tapping groundwater would have to register with the the district industrial centre.

But as a DIC official admitted, ‘‘I do not know of any borewell records. Not a single boring has been registered with us.’’

More than three years after the first known case of poisonous effluent injection, violations continue. But the UPPCB has never invoked the Environment Protection Act or the Water

(Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, which provide for prison terms for offenders.

Asked why, Khan said, ‘‘It’s not practical, you see.’’