A laboratory to test the quality of drinking water will soon be set up in Pune. The project has been funded by the World Bank (WB) and is part of a capacity-building programme initiated by the Maharashtra government. The WB officials, who are currently touring the state to review several ongoing projects, are in talks with various government agencies to understand the current requirements.
Groundwater Survey and Development Agency (GSDA) will be managing the functioning of the new laboratory.
The Pune lab, which is likely to be be set up at Wadgaon Dhayari, will function as a centralised system to co-ordinate with over 30 labs to be established under the programme.
GSDA officials said while 26 labs will operate at district levels, six regional labs — each at Pune, Mumbai, Nashik, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Konkan region — will coordinate on a regional scale. Of these, locations for setting up four labs have been finalised, they added.
Shekhar Gaikwad, director, GSDA, Pune, told The Indian Express, “The WB will be providing Rs 12 crore for setting up the Pune-headquartered lab. The work is expected to commence soon.”
Until now, there were a handful of labs functioning in the state where water testing was undertaken when needed. In addition, testing was also carried out in select district hospitals and civil hospitals, as a supportive facility, but was not proving to be helpful for a state like Maharashtra, with large variations in its topography.
A senior official from GSDA said, “Earlier, the water quality was tested only in case of a disease outbreak caused by drinking water or upon receiving complaints of deteriorating water quality from an area. It was highly arbitrary in nature without any systemic tracking mechanism.”
With the establishment of over 30 new testing facility labs, it will be mandatory to test the water quality twice a year.
Gaikwad said, “The water quality will be checked for over 18 parameters, including checking for concentration of flourides, chlorides, potash among the key ones. One schedule of annual quality testing will be post monsoon, when there is highest chance of both the run-off and seeped-in water to be mixed with adulterants.” The state has sanctioned 850 new contractual posts for employees who would be required to run these new laboratories across the state. Of these, 650 recruitments have been completed while the remaining are currently underway. WB has disbursed a sum of Rs 5 crore for salaries of the new employees.