Water, the vital life support can be the root of health hazards if it gets contaminated. Contamination with arsenic chloride, nitrates has been a common occurrence in the rural parts of India and other SAARC countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal which makes the inhabitants suffer with severe health problems.
Drinking water quality
With an aim to offer technological solutions to water problems in SAARC countries besides rural pockets of India, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation is establishing an International Centre for Drinking Water Quality in Kolkata.
Pankaj Jain, Secretary in Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, said that roughly five per cent of water supply in rural areas suffers from contamination like arsenic chloride, salinity or nitrate.
The limit of arsenic concentration in drinking water prescribed by the WHO is 0.05 ppm (parts per million). Not only rural parts but ground water of many cities shows high concentration of arsenic. Chronic exposure to arsenic can cause deficiency of vitamin A, leading to night-blindness and heart-related ailments. Symptoms of arsenic poisoning include headache, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea. Sometimes severe poisoning leads to coma and eventually death. Arsenic can also lead to malfunctioning of lungs, kidneys and liver and also affects skin.
"There are also new emerging contaminant like pesticides, heavy metals such as chromium and uranium. This Centre will not only do research but also offer technological solutions," the Secretary commented.
Solution to Water Woes
The Drinking Water and Sanitation Secretary said the problems of arsenic are common to Bangladesh, Nepal and neighbouring countries. "If they want to contribute or seek advise, both ways, and exchange of ideas, technology, research and knowledge that can be done. That's why it is international," he said.
“The registration of the Society would be done within ten days. We have also identified the land, which the government of West Bengal is offering to the government of India, and we would take possession of the land by mid-November," the Secretary informed reporters.
The Centre, first-of-its-kind in the country, would offer Diploma and Ph.D programmes on water quality as well, he added.
The Union Cabinet had in August given its approval to the proposal for establishing the International Centre for Drinking Water Quality in Kolkata. The Centre will be registered as a Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, with the requisite manpower, building and support infrastructure.
The rate at which water related problems are increasing is a situation to worry. Hope this centre will be the savior of the people in distress.