37.7 million People –over 75% of whom are children are afflicted by waterborne diseases every year. Overdependence on groundwater has brought in contaminants, fluoride being one of them. Nearly 66 million people in 20 states are at risk because of the excessive fluoride in water. While the permissible limit of fluoride in water is 1 mg per litre in states like Haryana it is as high as 48 mg in some places. Delhi water too has 32 mg.But the worst hits are Rajasthan, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. Nearly 6 million children below 14 suffer from dental, skeletal and non-skeletal fluorosis.
Arsenic is the other big killer lurking in ground water putting at risk nearly 10 million people. The problem is acute in Murshidabad, Nadia, North and South 24 Paraganas, Malda and Vardhaman districts of West Bengal. The deeper aquifers in the entire Gangetic plains contain arsenic.
High nitrate content in water is another serious concern.Fertilizers, septic tanks, sewage tanks etc are the main sources of nitrate contamination. The groundwater in MP, UP, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Kanataka and Tamil Nadu has shown traces of nitrates.
However it is bacteriological contamination which leads to diarrhoea, cholera and hepatitis which is widespread in India. A bacteriological analysis of the water in Bangalore revealed 75% bore wells were contaminated.Iron; hardness and salinity are also a concern. Nearly 12,500 habitats have been affected by salinity. In Gujarat it is a major problem in coastel districts. Often babies die of dehydration and there are major fights in villages for freshwater. Some villages have seen 80% migration due to high salinity. Similar situation is prevailing in many towns, villages across India.
HEALTH ISSUES DUE TO QUALITY OF WATER
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