Groundwater getting toxic rapidly in Karnataka

Groundwater getting toxic rapidly in Karnataka

Karnataka is among the top three big states with high groundwater contamination. DH File Photo

Karnataka is among the top three big states (over 25 districts) with high groundwater contamination, along with Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu, as almost all the 30 districts in the state showed fluoride and nitrate content, exposing crores of people to fluorosis and cancer, respectively.

All the 33 districts in Rajasthan have fluoride, nitrate as well as iron content beyond permissible limits, followed by Karnataka. Groundwater in three districts of neighbouring Tamil Nadu has shown the presence of lead besides the common contaminants.

In Karnataka, groundwater in samples drawn from 28 districts has shown iron contamination, highlighting the crisis of over-exploitation and improper management of industrial effluents. 

The data from the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation that was tabled in Lok Sabha on Thursday shows that water quality is deteriorating rapidly as the number of districts affected by arsenic has gone up from two to five in the last one year. Shockingly, water-rich Mandya has joined the list along with Chikkaballapur, Dharwad, Kalaburagi and Kolar where arsenic in groundwater samples exceeded the permissible limit of 0.01 mg per litre.

Except for Udupi, groundwater samples in all the districts have shown the presence of fluoride beyond the permissible limit, which can affect teeth and bones. Experts have warned that long-term use can lead to skeletal fluorosis.

The rise in the use of chemical fertilisers has led to a substantial jump in the groundwater contamination.  As many as 5,881 water samples in the 30 districts contained nitrates above the permissible limit of 45 mg per litre. 

The data reveals that an increasing number of people are becoming vulnerable to deadly diseases as the demand for water leads to higher exploitation of groundwater.

Officials at the Karnataka Groundwater Directorate said the data from the Union government goes in parallel with the study they have conducted. Kantaraju, who took over the position of director three days ago, they will soon publish the study. “We need greater awareness among the people on the exploitation of water, its use and treatment,” he added.

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