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Saturday, Dec 07, 2019

Groundwater contaminated in Fazilka dist, says lab report

High concentration of faecal coliform bacteria found in drinking water sources

cities Updated: Dec 04, 2019 23:31 IST
Vishal Joshi
Vishal Joshi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh

Analysis of groundwater samples by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has confirmed the reports about widespread contamination of drinking water sources in Fazilka district as a high concentration of faecal coliform bacteria were found in the recent laboratories tests.

Untreated sewage of 21 municipalities of Punjab’s Malwa belt that flows through various drains into the district is considered responsible for widespread contamination of groundwater in the border belt villages of Fazilka.

In a report submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) last month through a panel, PPCB stated that the chemical oxygen demand (COD) level, a pollution level indicator, was also found high in numerous samples in the district.

It added that chemical analysis of various surface water sources observed that the wastewater flowing in various drains was ‘worse than E class’. As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) norms for surface water utilisation, water up to only ‘E-class’ is fit for irrigation or a few industrial usages.

The water samples were studied by the experts in the laboratories at Mohali-based Punjab Biotechnology Incubator and Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala.

According to the prescribed norms set for the groundwater sources, traces of faecal coliform should be non-detectable in groundwater sources.

But the lab tests found faecal coliform in water samples taken from various handpumps and tubewells from 20 different sites in Fazilka district.

The groundwater samples were taken between Gharumi village and Qadar Baksh village, the worst-hit stretch in Fazika district.

Surface samples were taken from defence drain, ditch channel, Sabuana, Fazilka, Mauzzam drains and Sutlej creek.


Expressing worry over the findings, the PPCB has recommended the formation of a sub-committee comprising experts of water resources, soil and sewage treatment to conduct a detailed study into the high concentration of pollutants in Fazilka district.

Vikram Ahuja, a Fazilka-based farm rights activist, had filed a petition in the NGT in July, alleging that the groundwater in several villages along the India-Pakistan border in Fazilka is getting contaminated.

He had submitted official reports procured through the Right to Information (RTI) Act to substantiate his charge that untreated sewage from various districts of the state is wreaking havoc in Fazilka.

Backed by officials records gathered in the past few months, he had stated that sewage treatment plants (STPs) of various municipalities in the state are not functioning as per the prescribed norms, leading to water and soil contamination in Fazilka.

Fazilka deputy commissioner Manpreet Singh Chhatwal was appointed nodal officer by NGT to submit a detailed after a field study.


Harish Mehla, a lawyer representing the case in NGT, said the matter would be heard by the principal bench on December 17.

On August 5, HT had reported that farmers in several Fazilka villages are facing crop failure allegedly due to untreated sewage flowing through drains in the border district.

Meanwhile, a report tabled before the NGT panel has cited soil test reports obtained from the state agriculture department to confirm the high concentration of ‘electrical conductivity’, a condition that affects soil productivity.

The pollution monitoring panel of the state has blamed seepage of stagnant water in various drains carrying untreated municipal waste.