Arsenic, fluoride in groundwater: NGT seeks fresh report from CGWA in 6 weeks

 The National Green Tribunal has directed the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) to submit in six weeks a fresh report disclosing the action taken to remediate the problem of arsenic and fluoride in groundwater across several states.

The tribunal was hearing a matter where it had taken suo motu (on its own) cognisance of a newspaper report regarding the detection of arsenic and fluoride in the groundwater across 230 districts in 25 states, and 469 districts across 27 states, respectively.

Earlier, the tribunal had issued notices to all states and Union territories (UTs) concerned.

A bench of NGT Chairperson Justice Prakash Shrivastava noted the CGWA’s report dated February 6 this year and said it did not show “any concrete steps” to remediate the problem.

The report should have disclosed the number of vulnerable locations, including the remedial measures, such as installing arsenic and fluoride removal plants, or having an alternate water supply system, said the bench, also comprising judicial member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and expert member A Senthil Vel.

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“We have received the reports of the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, Manipur, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi but reports from other states are awaited,” the tribunal said in its order dated February 15.

Noting the Delhi government’s report, the tribunal said in some of the laboratories, even the sample testing facilities were not available and that procurement of kits and testing units would take four months.

“Hence, we grant six weeks to CGWA to file a fresh report disclosing the action which has been taken at the ground level by CGWA to remediate the problem,” the tribunal said.

It also directed the remaining states and UTs to file their response within six weeks.

The matter has been posted on April 26 for further proceedings.

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