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Proposal mooted to treat contaminated Delhi water

New technology to control cancer causing TTHM in Delhi, proposed by Water Resources Ministry, reports Chetan Chauhan

india Updated: Nov 14, 2006 12:03 IST

Cities like Delhi may get cleaner drinking water if the latest efforts of the Water Resources Ministry getPlanning Commission’s nod. HT on Saturday has pointed at the high levels of Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM) in Delhi water due toold processes inwater purification units and chances of contamination due to old pipelines.

Thatcould be a thing of the past as the ministry has proposed to give financial incentives to states to update age-old water purification technology with the best global practices ,in a bid to provide safe drinking water.

Many agencies like the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have conducted studies highlighting contamination of the drinking water. The proposal, promoting central and State cooperation, is being discussed at sub-group level and is likely to be part of the approach paper, a commission official said.

The ministeralso stressed on better water management at Water Digest Awards 2006 on Monday. “There are major contributors to water management and our efforts should be to bring them to the fore and set examples for others to follow,” he said, while pointing a need for better water quality delivery in India.

The CPCBMonday gave a clean chit to the Delhi Jal Board on its water treatment plans. “Samples from seven DJB treatment plants detailed below were collected from 15 locations and TTHM was found to be within the permissible limits of US Environment Protect Agency (UPEPA) standards. But, the samples lifted by CPCB staff from their own homes in different parts of the city had high TTHM.

CPCB also said that chlorination is used as disinfectant because of its effectiveness,cheapnessand easy availability. However, during treatment, the chlorine reacts with naturally occurring bio-genic organic matter, such as humic and fulvic acids resulting in formation of various disinfection by-products and TTHMs, considered toxic and carcogenic.

Studies in US have shown that cancer is the most possible TTHM risk but its intensity is highly debated. A study in California found high miscarriage rate among women drinking five glasses of highly contaminated TTHM water but another study in North Carolina found toxicity of such water very less. According to Dr Anil Bansal of Delhi Medical Council, when the concentration of TTHM is more than .46 milligram per litre it can cause colon-rectum and bladder cancer and can also cause miscarriage.

The easy solution, according to experts, is use of chloramines in place of chlorine. Several cities in US and Europe are using chloramines even though it is less effectivethan chlorine. For India, chlorine is the best option because of high contamination of the raw water.

Reacting to the HT report, a resident L K Sabbarwal said, the issue should be taken up by the government and necessary steps should be taken. A CPCB official, however, said the Sonia Vihar Water Treatment plant employs one of the world’s best water purification systems.

Chetan ChauhanEmail:

First Published: Nov 14, 2006 12:03 IST