Peenya residents forced to drink impure water

Peenya residents forced to drink impure water

Residents of Rajagopalnagar in Peenya Industrial Area are forced to drink water, from a borewell, with high levels of chromium in the absence of an alternative.

Not potable: A resident of Rajagopalnagar shows water drawn from a public tap in the area that is green in colour, due to chromium contamination. DH Photo

High levels of chromium in water causes skin irritation or ulceration in the short-term, while lifetime exposure to levels above the maximum contamination level can damage liver, kidney and nerve tissues.

A study by the Department of Mines and Geology has ascertained the presence of high levels of chromium in the water from the borewell in the area, said H M Khyum Ali, Additional Director of the department.

Though a board put up by the BBMP, at Rajagopalnagar in Peenya II Stage indicates that the water from the borewell is unfit for drinking, residents are forced to fetch water from the borewell in the absence of other sources of water.

Twenty years ago, when theatre artiste Chandrika Vajrappa was allotted a site in Rajagopalnagar, she was hoping for a new life.

Although there was water scarcity in the initial years, Chandrika was determined to fix the problem.

She gathered all her neighbours and urged them to pool in money to drill a borewell.

The new borewell ushered in a fresh lease of life to the residents. However, things started to change for the worse after a few years, when the other residents too started to drill borewells in the locality.

With the lapse of time, people started receiving water that was thick green in colour. Also, residents began to complain of rashes and boils on drinking water from the borewell.

“We thought industries in the vicinity were responsible for the contamination of groundwater. All of us complained to the Palike about the grim water situation in the area,” said Chandrika.

The Palike officers who arrived in area, collected water samples and after some days put up a board urging residents not to use the water, said Ravi Gowda, a resident of Rajagopalnagar. Once the board was put up, the residents stopped using water from the borewells in the locality. But after a while we were forced to use the water, as there were no other options, said Chandrika.

“Procuring water from private suppliers costs us a fortune. Hence, we use the borewell water for bathing, washing and for carrying out other daily chores. While for cooking we buy drinking water from private suppliers,” said Vajrappa, Chandrika’s husband and a Gubbi Veeranna awardee.

“A can of water costs Rs 15. A greater part of our income thus goes into buying water, affecting our monthly home budget,” he added.

Study report

“The department submitted the study report to the Karnataka Pollution Control Board in May 2010. The study report indicated that 51 per cent of the 41 water samples from the area showed chromium content above the permissible limit of 0.05 mg/l,” H M Khyum Ali.

However, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board Chairperson A S Sadashivaiah blamed the small units engaged in electroplating for chromium contamination in the area.

A deadline of March 31 has been set for the units to clean up their act, said Sadashivaiah.

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