A TEAM of scientists from the Punjab Agriculture University had declared the village’s water “unfit for drinking” way back in 2012. Despite that, the Punjab Pollution Control Board did not react. The villagers kept on fighting their battle in the court of law and to save themselves from the hazardous water, getting Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems installed at their homes.
The analysis report of Isapur village, compiled by an Experts Committee of PAU had found presence of certain hazardous chemicals in Isapur village’s water that were beyond permissible limits. The report stated that eight water samples were analysed for various drinking quality parameters such as pH, total hardness, Chloride, Sulphate and different heavy metals concentrations, using prescribed methods by department of Soil Science at PAU.
It adds that the depth of water table at Isapur village is about 70-100 feet. However, some of the farmers have dug deeper bores (350 to 500 feet) for their tube-wells to get better quality of water.
According to the findings of the report, “colour of underground water at 70-100 foot depth is opaque/ not clear as it contains suspended particles and had rust or black colouration at different places”.
The report added that the eight samples collected were determined for pesticides residues using multi-residue methodology. Three of the eight samples were found to be contaminated. One was found to be contaminated with Aldrin at a level of 6.69 parts per billion (PPB) which was higher than the prescribed limit of 0.03 PPB.
Another sample contained Atrazin at a level of 5.98 PPB, which was higher than the permissible limit of 1.0 PPB. The third sample was found to be contaminated with Atrazin at a level of 0.20 PPB. The report also mentioned the maximum permissible limit (MPL) of Chloride (permissible at a level of 250 by both BIS and WHO) in drinking water, three out of eight groundwater samples had chloride content more than MPL, making them unfit for drinking. Considering all these quality parameters, the water provided by water supply department (depth of tube-well 1,200 feet) is fit for drinking. The Chloride content was found between 284 MPL and 568 MPL which was quite higher than the permissible limit.
Advocate Karan Jund told Chandigarh Newsline that the state health department had neither filed any fresh report in the court, nor countered the data that PAU collected from the village earlier. He added that the state also did not make any effort for the installation of Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) to deal with the problem even after PAU pointed out that the water was not fit for human consumption.
The NGT orders read that nine teams of senior scientists of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) were constituted and they inspected the industries in two groups, collecting samples from effluent treatment plant, inlet and outlet of the industries and other effluents being bypassed by the factories. The sampling and analysis was conducted as per the standard of protocol from NABL-accredited laboratory. “Besides, the inspecting team had also collected groundwater samples from the vicinity for the purpose of ascertaining drinking water parameters, including CoD and heavy metals,” the orders read.
The orders stated that a perusal of the report submitted by CPCB reveals many glaring lapses such as industries operating without obtaining a valid consent or even operating on the premises that are actually in the name of some other closed industry, so as to give an impression that no industry is working on the said premises.
“As a matter of fact, after perusal of the report, we were shocked and were of the view that immediate measures need to be taken, keeping in view the severity of the environment degradation which must have taken place in the area and the damage being caused to the human health, flora and fauna and that too for last many years,” the order read.