13 Bihar districts have arsenic contaminated underground water

Patna: Underground water of over 1,500 hamlets in 13 districts of Bihar has arsenic contents beyond the permissible limit, a state minister said Sunday.

Stating that arsenic treatment plants were being set up in ten districts at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore, public health and engineering department minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey said the decision was taken after an examination of underground water of the districts, situated on both banks of the Ganga, found that 1,618 hamlets in 13 districts did have arsenic more than the permissible limit.

The water treatment plant at Ara in Bhojpur was ready, while in other districts the work was underway, he said.

The districts having arsenic more than the permissible limit in its underground water are Buxar, Bhojpur, Patna, Saran, Vaishali, Samastipur, Begusarai, Khagaria, Katihar, Munger, Bhagalpur, Lakhisarai and Darbhanga, he said.

The government had initiated steps to provide potable water to the people living in the hamlets of these districts.

To provide them safe water, it has been decided to dig up two sanitary wells in 838 worst arsenic-affected hamlets as a short term measure, Choubey said.

So far, 575 sanitary wells have been constructed.

The minister said the government had decided to use Ganga water to provide safe drinking water to 39 arsenic-affected villages of Bhojopur district.

The water would be treated and then supplied to the arsenic-hit villages of the district under 'multi-village' scheme that would be completed by March end this year.

Choubey said the government sanctioned the multi-village scheme for 130 arsenic-affected hamlets in Buxar, 25 villages in Patna district and 45 villages of Vaishali that would be completed during 2010-11.

The government has sanctioned a scheme of Rs 107.17 crore for supply of drinking water using 'upper bed' water in the worst-affected 39 villages falling under Matihani and Baruauni blocks of Begusarai district.

Similar steps have been undertaken to supply safe drinking water to 67 villages of Samastipur and 86 villages of Bhagalpur at a cost of Rs 82 crore and 78.29 crore respectively.

The minister said besides the arsenic-hit villages, the government would launch a a separate scheme for 8188 hamlets of 11 districts having excess fluoride in the water.

The fluroide-affected districts identified by the department are Nalanda, Rohtas, Kaimur, Gaya, Aurangabad, Nawada, Bhagalpur, Banka, Munger, Jamui and Shiekhpura, Choubey said.