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Where water is polluted and the people are sick

delhi Updated: Aug 13, 2010 02:02 IST
Peeyush Khandelwal

"Mujhe Zeher de do (Give me poison)," cried 70-year-old Sita Devi, a resident of Loni's Lutfullapur Navada village, 30 km from Ghaziabad.

She said she can't bear to look at her skin, which has developed rashes and itches all the time. She also complained about discolouration of her skin.

Navada village, with over 250 households, lies adjacent to a huge drain that carries water from industrial and dying units at Khekra area of Baghpat district in Western Uttar Pradesh.

Residents claimed the contaminated water from the drain gets mixed in the ground water in the area and has, over the years, caused various skin diseases.

The villagers, whose only source of consumable water is hand pumps, said the water in the drain adjoining their village has been stagnant for many years, claiming that this polluted water is contaminating their groundwater.

Regional Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) in-charge T.U. Khan said a survey was conducted in the area some time ago and four deep bored hand pumps were installed for the residents.

"The shallow hand pumps used by the residents had traces of colours during the sampling surveys. So the authorities have installed four deep bored hand pumps," Khan said.

Talking to Hindustan Times, Ghaziabad CMO A.K. Dhawan said, "During our previous surveys, there were some problems reported about the quality of water."

Another resident, Kuldeep Tyagi, said, "This water emits foul smell, is different in colour and is unfit for drinking. Even after many representations to the administration officials, there has been no permanent solution to this problem."

"We have no option. Either we consume this water or purchase packaged water, which is beyond our means. Safe drinking water is a distant reality for us," said Rajbir Singh, who has developed skin disease along with his eight-year-old son Sonu.

Not just people, animals have also not been spared. Bima Jeet said he purchased seven buffaloes some months ago and they were fed the same water which the humans consume.

"None of the buffaloes have borne any calves and some even got aborted," he claimed.

UPPCB officials and Ghaziabad Additional District Magistrate (ADM-City) S.K. Srivastava said they were unable to control the inflow of water as the matter relates to a different district and the development agency, UP State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC), should work out a plan to dispose off the stagnated water.

UPSIDC Regional Manager R.K. Chauhan said their officials were concerned with the stagnant water in the area and pursued their seniors at Kanpur who have now sanctioned Rs 12 crore to dispose off the water from the area.

"It is a heavy investment which we have to bear just because Baghpat authorities could not make proper arrangements for industrial water disposal," Chauhan told Hindustan Times.

As part of the safe disposal of the stagnant water from Navada, UPSIDC now intends to construct 5.5 km pipeline network, which would take the drain water to an effluent treatment plant near April Park area adjacent to Delhi-Saharanpur road.

"The project would take another 3-4 months to get completed," Chauhan added.

Till then the residents of Nevada will have to wait in hope that one day they would be able to have safe and contamination-free water.