6,061 habitations affected by arsenic, 4,592 by flouride in India: Govt

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New Delhi, Mar 18 (PTI) There are 6,061 arsenic-affected and 4,592 flouride-affected human habitations in the country, the government informed Parliament on Thursday.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said of the 6,061 arsenic-affected habitations, more than half or 3,115 are in West Bengal, followed by 2,291 in Assam, 385 in Bihar and 222 in Uttar Pradesh.

Of the 4,592 flouride-affected habitations, 2,820 are in Rajasthan, followed by 844 in Bihar and 276 in West Bengal.

Shekhawat said since August 2019, the Centre, in partnership with the states, is implementing the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) to provide potable tap water supply to every rural household in the country by 2024.

'Under JJM, while planning water supply schemes to provide tap water supply to rural households, priority is given to quality-affected habitations which, inter alia, include habitations affected with arsenic and fluoride contamination.

'Accordingly, states are prioritising water supply schemes to provide potable drinking water to such habitations,' Shekhawat said.

In a separate statement, the Jal Shakti ministry said about 2,000 laboratories across the country have been opened up to the general public for testing their water samples at a nominal rate.

The source coordinates of all water samples are captured and the water quality testing reports are generated online and sent to the citizens, along with a copy to the public health engineer concerned for immediate corrective action, if any, and also to the central database for continuous monitoring and remedial action, it said.

Last week, the ministry launched a framework and guidelines for testing, monitoring and surveillance of drinking water quality as well as a Water Quality Information Management System (WQIMS), an online portal that provides detailed information of laboratories for the purpose.

The guidelines specify the work to be done in terms of surveillance and monitoring at the state, district, block or tehsil and village levels.

The basic water quality parameters prescribed under the guidelines are pH value, total dissolved solids, turbidity, chloride, total alkalinity, total hardness, sulphate, iron, total arsenic, fluoride, nitrate, total coliform bacteria, e.coil or thermo-tolerant coliform bacteria. PTI PR RC