The Moga administration has decided to install purifying devices after the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) detected a high degree of uranium in groundwater in some villages of the district, 161 km from Chandigarh.
The BARC report said of the 166 villages surveyed, contaminated water was found in 55.
The World Health Organisation says 15 microgram (one microgram is one-thousandth of a milligram) of uranium per litre of drinking water is the permissible limit. In some villages, the uranium found was almost 17 times the tolerable level.
When the limit of 15 microgram is breached, consumers become susceptible to cancer, skin diseases and genetic disorders.
Though the administration stressed the presence of uranium in water had not been confirmed, deputy commissioner Vijay N Zade said reverse osmosis systems had been set up in some villages. More villages will get the facility.
Experts say the likely source of the uranium is flyash from the coal-fired thermal power plant in Bathinda, 83 km from Moga.
Reverse osmosis is a filtration method that removes impurities from solutions by applying pressure.
Zade said water samples from more than 250 villages had been sent to BARC for inspection.
In the 11 districts of Punjab’s Malwa region, to which Moga belongs, there have been about 500 cases of cancer in the past two years. It is suspected uranium in water has been the principal cause of this.