Study finds Marathwada water most foul

by Umesh Isalkari, originally posted on April 26, 2016


Pune: If residents of Marathwada have been frequently visiting their doctors with complaints of upset stomachs, they can blame it on the poor quality of drinking water.

All eight districts in the region have fared poorly in an analysis conducted by the State Public Health Laboratory on thousands of water samples. And considering the severe water scarcity in the region, there is not much that residents can do. Officials from the laboratory, in fact, have said that the depleting groundwater is a significant factor for the high contamination in the region.

The samples drawn between January and March this year from Aurangabad, Hingoli, Jalna, Parbhani, Latur, Beed, Nanded and Osmanabad show that the percentage of drinking water found unfit for consumption is higher here than the state’s other districts. The contamination in the drinking water in the eight districts, taking together rural as well as urban samples, ranges from 12% to a whopping 36%.

In the rest of the state, the lowest percentage of contamination (1%) was recorded in Palghar and the highest (18%) in Akola and Buldhana.

Experts say that water contamination in excess of 20% in rural areas and 10% in city areas is considered worrisome and calls for instant remedial measures. The World Bank estimates that 21% of communicable diseases in India are water related.

The referral laboratory tested 1,72,440 water samples sourced mainly from wells, borewells and taps across Maharashtra and found 15,479 to be contaminated. In other words, 9% drinking water in Maharashtra was found to be contaminated in the last three months as against a total 10% contamination recorded throughout last year.

Considering samples only from rural areas, Jalna has reported 43% contamination in its drinking water, which is the highest in the state during the last three months. Similarly, taking into account only urban samples, Sindhudurg has reported the highest contamination (28%) in Maharashtra, followed by Thane (19%).

In Marathwada, rural areas in six of the eight districts reported over 20% contamination. In urban parts, Jalna (13%) and Latur (13%) showed the highest contamination in their drinking water samples.

S B Kamble, deputy director of the State Public Health Laboratory, said the data is representative, but provides a fair idea of the level of bacteriological water contamination in both urban and rural parts in the state.
“The highest contamination is found in water samples drawn from all the eight districts in Marathwada in the last three months. The reason being that groundwater table has depleted considerably in this region, resulting in drinking water that fares poorly on quality parameters. This is the area that depends primarily on wells and borewells for its drinking water needs,” Kamble said.

He said that state health officials distribute chlorine tablets in areas which are at risk of the outbreak of water-borne diseases. “But contamination does not always mean that it will cause a disease outbreak. As a precautionary measure, we keep sensitizing households on using chlorine tablets and boiling water,” Kamble said.

Kanchan Jagtap, joint director (water borne disease) of state health department, confirmed that sporadic cases of diarrhoea and dysentery have been recorded from Marathwada. “But there is certainly no outbreak situation anywhere in the region, simply because we have intensified our surveillance and started distributing liquid chlorine solution to households and sensitizing people about measures to ward off diseases. We have been doing this activity for many years as the region is known to have comparatively more contamination in its drinking water,” Jagtap said.

Health activist Sanjay Dabhade said, “The report clearly indicates the failure of the government agencies that are responsible towards keeping water safe and potable for people. Short term measures are only an eyewash.”


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