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Safe drinking water for Bihar villages soon

india Updated: Dec 15, 2009 15:57 IST

There is good news for hundreds of arsenic- and fluoride-affected villages in Bihar as they will be provided with safe drinking water soon, official sources said Tuesday.

Arsenic, an odourless and tasteless semi-metal element, occurs naturally in the environment and sometimes as a by-product of agriculture and industry.

The state government has decided to provide safe drinking water in 150 arsenic-affected villages and 200 fluoride-affected villages across the state.

“The government has identified these arsenic- and fluoride-affected villages to provide safe drinking water,” Bihar Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) Minister Ashwani Chaubey told IANS here.

Chaubey said the department was serious about providing safe drinking water to people in arsenic- and fluoride-affected villages.

According to him, there are 11 fluoride-affected and 13 arsenic-affected districts in Bihar.

The government is working on a 'multi-village water supply project' to supply safe drinking water to affected villages, he said.

The government would provide safe drinking water from the Ganga to villages affected by arsenic, an official in the department, said.

“First, the surface water (in the river) will be treated to remove harmful substances and then it will be supplied,” the official said. He said the treatment of groundwater containing arsenic was expensive and not sustainable.

The state government admitted early this year that high levels of arsenic have been found in the groundwater of different Bihar districts on either side of the Ganga river, posing a cancer threat, an official said.

Arsenic causes cancer of the intestines, liver, kidneys and bladder as well as gangrene.

People in several Bihar villages are suffering from bone deformation and a variety of skin problems.