Potable water in 13 arsenic-hit Bihar districts by next year, says deputy CM Sushil Modi

Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said work was also underway to set up sewage treatment plants in 20 districts to curb flow of sewage water directly into Ganga and its tributaries.

patna Updated: Feb 22, 2018 12:51 IST
Subhash Pathak
Subhash Pathak
Hindustan Times, Patna
Potable water,Bihar districts,arsenic
A sum of Rs 391.60 crore is being spent to ensure availability of safe, arsenic-free drinking water in 13 Bihar districts by the end of next year.(File photo)

Safe drinking water would be made available by next year in 13 districts of Bihar, where high arsenic levels pose a serious health hazard, state’s deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said on Wednesday.

Addressing a stakeholders’ meeting on ‘Rejuvenation of river Ganga’, organised by the Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) in Patna, Modi said work on Rs 391.60-crore schemes was underway to ensure availability of arsenic-free drinking water in 961 settlements in 13 districts by the end of next year.

Work was also on to set up sewage treatment plants in 20 districts, including Patna, at the cost of Rs 4,166 crore, to curb flow of sewage water directly into Ganga and its tributaries. Massive plantation was being carried out on 445-km stretch along various rivers at a cost of Rs 96 crore, to restrict silt generation, he said.

Modi said the BSPCB had decided to open two more regional centres—one at Bhagalpur and another at Gaya—by the next fiscal, to ensure effective monitoring and strict compliance of the stipulated norms. Currently, the board has regional offices at Muzaffapur and Barauni.

The meeting was significant as it also heralded the launch of FAR-Ganga project—a joint venture of institutions of India and United Kingdom—to tackle potable water quality issues.

Lauding the joint initiative aimed at developing new management strategy to resolve water contamination in Ganga basin, Modi expressed hope that the new study would help evolve newer technology to fight the challenges of ground water contamination and ensure purity and incessantness in the flow of Ganga.

BSPCB chairman Ashok Ghosh said the board would provide technical support to government on environmental issues to check violation of the stipulated norms. He, however, sought additional resources and manpower to empower the board for authentic analysis of the challenges ahead.

Magadh University vice chancellor of Qamar Ahsan said resources in the colleges and university could be utilised for analysis of pollution related issues. BSPCB member-secretary Alok Kumar proposed a vote of thanks.

Later during the technical session, David Polya of University of Manchester, UK, who is also part of the project, said their study would focus on finding cost-effective remedial strategy for restricting groundwater contamination. Another member of the team, Debapriya Mondal, senior lecturer at the University of Salford, spoke about environmental contaminations taking toll on human health.

SN Jayasawal, BSPCB analyst, said the stretch of Ganga passing through Bihar was the most polluted and it could improve only when flow of sewage water into the river was completely stopped.

IIT-Roorkee, IIT-Kharagpur, National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, along with Mahavir Cancer Institute and Research Centre, Patna, are the Indian partners while experts from British Geological Society, University of Manchester, University of Salford and University of Birmingham would join in from the United Kingdom for the three-year programme.

Bihar public health engineering department (PHED) minister Vinod Narayan Jha had recently told reporters at Motihari that 11 out of 38 Bihar districts were badly affected with fluoride. The arsenic content in the groundwater of 13 districts was alarming, he had said.

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 12:51 IST