Crisis looms in Agra as underground water tests unfit for drinking

A major drinking water crisis has hit Agra with a large section of the underground water being laced with arsenic and fluoride.
Crisis looms in Agra as underground water tests unfit for drinking

Besides being located on the banks of a dying Yamuna river, the Agra region is also struggling under a major underground water crisis with a large section of the underground water being laced with arsenic and fluoride.

According to a report released by the Agra Jal Nigam, in the past 11 months, 3500 samples were taken from 200 villages in 15 development blocks. In 80 percent of them, the Fluoride content was found higher than the acceptable 2-2.5 ppm against 1-1.5 ppm, while in 50 per cent Arsenic content was found almost twice than normal at 1-1.25 ppm against .5 ppm.

Even the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) were found at 2000-2200 ppm against the maximum permissible limit of 1600 ppm. In some villages, the water hardness was found to be 1.25-1.5 times higher than acceptable.

In 7 blocks - Fatehpur Sikri, Achhnera, Akola, Bichpuri, Baroli Ahir, Khandoli, and Etmadpur, the condition was worse, where fluoride content was twice the acceptable limit. In Patti Pachgai and Pachgai Khera villages, the fluoride content was several times higher than normal and had resulted in the local residents developing deformities in their bodies, making them handicapped and unable to move around.

Dr. Ashish Gautam, Senior Physician at SN Medical College said the rise in the harmful chemicals in the underground water has caused a rise in bone and skin afflictions in the local population. In the past 5 years, the annual incidence of skin and bone disease has doubled with the number rising gradually with the rise in the harmful content in the water.

Agra Jal Nigam sources claimed that the Nigam has extended the facility of water testing to any individual who has a handpump or submersible pump installed in his home. Besides that, regular surveys are being conducted in every rural household to ensure the supply of clean drinking water. In 2021, every household will be given water connections.

Even in the city, the Cantonment and MG Road areas have the worst water quality. The TDS near the Divisional Commissioner's bungalow is as high as 3000 while on the MG Road near the District Magistrate's bungalow, it is 2500. Even in the Yamuna bank area in Sikandra, the TDS is between 900-1000. Fluoride is 0.8-1.4 ppm.

Senior Physician Dr. SK Kalra told India Today that people should be advised to boil the water before drinking. To reduce the fluoride in water, 1 gram alum and .5 gram calcium carbonate should be mixed in 5 liters boiled water and stored for an hour before drinking.

However, Arsenic can only be removed through the reverse osmosis process and the Jal Nigam should install community RO plants in villages for drinking water.

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by Water Today staff and is generated from news feeds. Source: India Today

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