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Background

Home > Water Quality > Background

Public Health Engineering Department, Govt. of West Bengal undertakes the noble task of supplying of potable drinking water to rural Bengal, with groundwater, surface water or sub-surface water after necessary treatment if required.

Over the years, a large number of ground water based water supply schemes were commissioned for rural people, so also, many surface water or subsurface water based water supply schemes, if available nearby, were also implemented. It is obvious that both type of water sources are contaminated by a variety of pollutants. It is observed that ground water in almost all districts of West Bengal contains chemical contaminants like arsenic, fluoride, chloride, iron etc. Therefore to supply safe drinking water, it is always a concern of the Department to make the supplied water free from any chemical or bacteriological impurities. Among several impurities present in water, the contaminants like arsenic and fluoride is more disastrous to the human health and hygiene than the other ones.

Total 83 Blocks under 8 districts of West Bengal are affected with Arsenic Contamination above permissible limit (> 0.05 mg/l). Similarly 43 Blocks under 7 districts of West Bengal are affected with Arsenic Contamination above permissible limit (> 1.5 mg/l). Moreover 57 Blocks in 4 districts of West Bengal are affected with Salinity in ground water above permissible limit (Chloride > 250 mg/l or TDS > 500 mg/l)).

Therefore, action plan for arsenic mitigation as well as road map for eradication of fluoride and salinity problem from the affected areas of west Bengal has already been initiated by this Department.

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Govt. of India, is emphasizing on covering of all quality affected areas within March, 2017.

CRITICAL AREAS OF CONCERN:


Arsenic:

    • The arsenic contamination in groundwater in West Bengal was detected in the mid ‘80s.
    • In 2005-’06 a massive water quality survey under JPOA with UNICEF was undertaken to taste all the water sources of the affected districts.
    • The survey revealed, 79 blocks in 8 districts of West Bengal are affected with arsenic contamination > 0.05ml/L.
    • Based on this survey, an Arsenic Master Plan was prepared by PHED.
    • This master plan suggested some short, medium and long term measures to supply safe drinking water to the affected people.
    • The implementation of this master plan is almost complete and expected to be fully commissioned within this financial year. 
    • This Master Plan for Arsenic Mitigation was made under exclusive funding under water quality submission with 75:25 cost sharing between GOI and the State Government.
    • Moreover, 165 nos. of ARP in existing ground water based water supply schemes need to be installed.
      • Due to the dynamic nature of arsenic in underground aquifers, pollution is continuously spread in other zones, creating emergence of newly affected areas. Thereby, the total no. of affected blocks has been raised to 83 from the existing 79 blocks.

Fluoride:

  • 43 nos. of blocks in 7 districts are affected with fluoride contamination in groundwater.
  • Total rural population at risk is 74.08 lakh, which is about 11.91% of total state rural population.
  • Several mitigation measures have been undertaken so far for fluoride mitigation.
  • A considerable no. of piped water supply schemes have been implemented in the affected areas, tapping subsurface water in river base.
  • Rainwater harvesting schemes in a no. of schools have been commissioned.
  • Pond based water supply schemes with mirror treatment facilities have been implemented.
  •  Where any alternative source is not available, extraction of groundwater from deeper aquifer free from fluoride have been arranged.
  • In the Purulia district, de-fluoridation unit has been installed in 43 no. of schools and madrasas.
  • Subsurface based pipe water supply schemes, covering total blocks of Gangarampur and Tapan of Dakshin Dinajpur District have been taken up, expected to be partially commissioned within March 2016.
  • Out of 729 nos. of affected villages, mitigation measures have already been taken by commissioned or ongoing schemes in 572no.s of villages.

Block-wise distribution of the chemical contamination namely Arsenic, Fluoride and Salinity is listed below:


Blocks affected with Arsenic more than 0.05 mg/L

Sl No District Existing Arsenic Affected Blocks New Arsenic Affected Blocks No of Blocks
1 Burdwan Purbasthali-I, Purbasthali-II, Katwa-I, Katwa-II, Kalna-II   5
2 Howrah Uluberia-II Bally-Jagachha 2
3 Hooghly Balagarh Pandua 2
4 Maldah English Bazar, Manickchak, Kaliachak-I, Kaliachak-II, Kaliachak - III, Ratua-I, Ratua-II   7