HIGH LEVEL OF CHROMIUM IN GROUNDWATER CAN KILL
Ghaziabad is supposed to be the next best thing after the capital. A place where people can still hope to build a home for their families, a place which has still got space to live unlike Delhi. More and more people from Delhi and elsewhere are making a beeline for accommodation in nearby Ghaziabad, without even sparing a thought to super inflated levels of air as well as water pollution here. Ground water here, with majority of population drawing out ground water for consumption, is simply unfit for drinking. Untreated industrial effluents finding their way into water are responsible for a plethora of health problems faced by the people here. It is not unusual for one to see if one happens to be in the industrial area, drains carrying highly coloured water which indicates very high level of pollution. A study revealed that pollution in residential areas near Ghaziabad's industrial pockets has increased significantly, leading to a spurt in water-related diseases. The pollution of groundwater in and around Ghaziabad's industrial areas has become a cause of concern, apart from reports of its fast deteriorating air quality. All remedial efforts to improve the groundwater quality have so far been futile, say residents of the area.
Besides high levels of pollutants like aluminum, iron, fluoride and nitrates, a recent study commissioned by Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) revealed that the amount of carcinogenic hexavalent chromium in the ground water over several square kilometers is 40 mg per liter, a whopping 800 times than WHOs maximum permissible limit (0.05mg/l). You would thing that these figures might have jolted the administration from its slumber but the truth is that it is hardly doing any effort in that direction. In some places the chromium concentration is so high that the colour of water appears yellow and in those places where the colour is not yet yellow, it is still enough to cause irreparable damage to peoples' health. According to a report published in TOI, Chief, Ghaziabad UP pollution Control Board, Paras Nath, it is the job of Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam to check underground water quality but failed to comment on as to why Central Groundwater authority wasn't apprised when Ghaziabad had already been declared "critical area". RWA chief, sis-Hindon area commented that there were 150 industrial units polluting the city's groundwater with red, yellow and black pollutants. Most of them do not treat their effluents, but pump it straight into the ground water by reverse boring. All RWAs have been advised to have their ground water tested as, much of it used for drinking.
Coming to chromium pollution in groundwater, this heavy metal occurs mainly in three forms. Metallic chromium (Cr) is a steel-gray solid with a high melting point that's used to make steel and other alloys. Trivalent chromium (Cr[III]) occurs naturally in rocks, soil, plants, animals, and volcanic emissions. Cr(III) is used industrially as a brick lining for high-temperature industrial furnaces and to make metals, metal alloys, and chemical compounds. Hexavalent chromium (Cr[VI]) is produced industrially when Cr(III) is heated in the presence of mineral bases and atmospheric oxygen (for instance, during metal finishing processes). It is this third form of chromium that has proven to be of the greatest occupational and environmental health concern. Hexavalent chromium is more toxic because its easily absorbed by the cells. Over the years, total chromium accumulated in the liver, kidneys, spleen, bones, lungs, heart, muscles, and blood indicates a potential for toxicity and cancer in many different tissues. Oncologist, Dr. Sudhir Agarwal says that ingestion of chromium over a long period of time is linked to intestinal, throat and mouth cancer.
Hardly any action is being taken against those industrial units which are releasing their pollutants laden effluents untreated into environment. People are forced to consume ground water as the Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam's water supply is highly erratic and does not ensure sufficiency. According to a report in TOI, the condition is so bad in some areas that water purifier firms have stopped accepting annual maintenance contracts as filters of water purifiers get clogged by chromium and other toxic deposits very frequently. Though nothing substantial has been done either to look into the harmful effects of chromium or to curb industries from polluting water bodies, but the report mentions that Ghaziabad Nigam has atleast been instructed to improve the water supply so that the dependence on ground water is decreased, which is not only harming people's health but is also pushing down the ground water table to irretrievable limits.