Testing of drinking water samples, as directed by the National Green Tribunal, in six western districts of Uttar Pradesh is in a limbo with pollution control authorities and the administration blaming each other. The green panel had directed the Uttar Pradesh government and state pollution control board to inspect the quality of drinking water in villages of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad and Saharanpur districts and file status report.
However, the district magistrate of Muzaffarnagar, in an affidavit told the NGT that drinking water of hand pumps contains toxic metals and analysis was not possible in the laboratory of Jal Nigam and the cost of water samples from private labs would be around Rs 164.479 lakh.
Therefore, the analysis of water may be directed to be done in the laboratory of Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, the DM has said. He also submitted that providing safe drinking water to the villagers through pipeline under the National Drinking Water Programme Mission would cost approximately Rs 8209.59 lakh.
“Detailed project report of drinking water supply through pipelines in these villages is in progress and would be submitted to the government of Uttar Pradesh for sanction of funds,” he said. In contrast to the above submission, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) said testing of water of hand pumps or tubewells is done by UP Jal Nigam and UPPCB is not required under Water Act of Environment (Protection) to test the drinking water.
“UP Jal Nigam is responsible for the preparation, execution promotion and financing the scheme for supply of water and it has been entrusted duties to supply water which has established its own laboratories for testing of potable water,” UPPCB said in an affidavit filed in response to a plea highlighting water problem in the area.
The matter is listed for hearing on September 7. The tribunal was hearing a petition filed by scientist C V Singh, through advocate Gaurav Bansal, who had claimed that farmers and poor villagers were facing health hazards as they were forced to drink highly contaminated ground water in these six districts.