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Raj Nagar residents complain of hexavalent chromium in water, UPPCB collects samples

PUBLISHED ON JAN 29, 2020 08:58 PM IST

Ghaziabad: The officials of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) Wednesday collected about 25 groundwater samples from sectors 2 and 3 in Raj Nagar, Ghaziabad, and also from adjacent Meerut Road Industrial Area after residents, citing test they got done at a lab, complained that hexavalent chromium was present in the groundwater.

The residents said they were alarmed to see the pale yellow/greenish water drawn from submersibles and one of them got the water tested at a lab in his office.

“The water colour became muddy over the past two or three months but we did not suspect anything and continued using it. After my daughter pointed it out, I collected three samples and got them tested in the lab at my office. The results indicated the presence of hexavalent chromium in concentrations much higher than the permissible limit,” Shekhar Yadav, a resident of Sector 2, said. Yadav works at the Yamaha plant in Greater Noida, which also has a in-house lab.

According to World Health Organization, exposure to hexavalent chromium occurs through breathing, ingestion, and contact with the skin. Although most of the known health impacts are related to inhalation, there is now strong data linking ingestion of hexavalent chromium, such as through drinking water, to severe health effects. In addition to cancer and reproductive harm, short and long-term exposures can lead to eye and respiratory irritation, asthma attacks, nasal ulcers, dermal burns, anaemia, acute gastroenteritis, vertigo, gastrointestinal haemorrhage, convulsions, ulcers, and damage or failure of the liver and kidneys.

“We have stopped using the groundwater and rely only on packaged water. One of the three samples that we got tested was of municipal water but it had no presence of hexavalent chromium. Once the reports came in, we contacted our local councillor and the UPPCB was also informed,” Yadav said.

The report of the tests conducted by residents indicated that the first sample from a Sector 2 household had presence of .80 mg/litre of hexavalent chromium against a permissible limit of .10 mg/litre.

The sample from the second household in Sector 3 showed a presence of about .62 mg/litre.

“It was only after the water samples were tested we got alarmed. The depth of the submersibles is about 200-220 metres. So we have now stopped using submersibles and rely on municipal water supply,” Dr Harpal Singh, a resident of Sector 3, said.

The Raj Nagar locality is opposite Lohiya Nagar where the chromium contamination in groundwater had been reported as early as 2005. Back then, the UPPCB had the water samples and found high levels of chromium contamination.

The teams of UPPCB arrived Wednesday and collected several groundwater samples.

“The water remediation is already in process at a plant in Lohiya Nagar and it will take some more years to free it of contamination. On the complaints by Raj Nagar residents, we have collected about 25 samples from households and even from a plot in Meerut Road Industrial Area. The samples will be tested at a government laboratory in Lucknow,” Utsav Sharma, regional official, UPPCB, said.

Sharma has also directed the formation of a committee to carry out extensive survey of industrial units at the Meerut Road Industrial Area to ascertain if they use hexavalent chromium as raw material in production activities.

Sources said according to a study by the department of civil engineering, IIT Madras, in August 2019, the contour flow of groundwater does not indicate that chromium contamination from Lohiya Nagar (C Block) was reaching Raj Nagar sectors.

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