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Updated December 26th, 2023 at 19:39 IST

NGT issues notices to 28 states, UTs over presence of arsenic, fluoride in groundwater

The NGT has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that highlighted the presence of arsenic and fluoride beyond permissible limits in groundwater.

Abhishek Tiwari
NGT takes suo motu cognizance on groundwater
NGT takes suo motu cognizance regarding presence of arsenic and fluoride in groundwater. | Image:Shutterstock/ Representational
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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has taken cognizance regarding the presence of arsenic and fluoride in ground water and has issued notices to 24 states and 4 Union Territories on the issue. The matter has been listed for further proceedings on February 15.

The NGT panel has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that highlighted the presence of arsenic and fluoride beyond permissible limits in groundwater in some pockets of various states and Union Territories.

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According to the media report, arsenic was detected in groundwater in around 230 districts across 25 states, while fluoride was found in some pockets of 469 districts in 27 states. The green panel observed that the presence of harmful metals and chemicals are very serious for the health and it requires urgent preventive steps.

Presence of such metals, chemicals in groundwater can cause health hazards, observes tribunal

As per news agency PTI, a bench of Judicial Member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Expert Member A Senthil Vel stated that the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) had submitted a report, in which it has admitted the presence of arsenic and fluoride in various parts of the Indian states.

The bench said that the CGWA has also admitted that both the chemicals or metals have very serious toxic effects on the human body, which can cause health hazards.

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The bench noted that the CGWA is responsible for regulating groundwater, and did not take any independent steps on the grounds that water is a state subject, but its contention had been rejected by a 1997 Supreme Court verdict and a 2022 tribunal order.

"We are surprised that after such a long time, even today, the CGWA has the audacity of shirking away from its own statutory responsibility and obligations and taking such flimsy grounds which have already been rejected by the apex court itself," it added.

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The further said, "The issue raised in the present matter with regard to the presence of arsenic and fluoride in groundwater in such a large number of states and districts is very serious and requires urgent preventive and protective steps by all authorities concerned."

Following the hearing the tribunal sought responses on the issue from  28 states and Union Territories along with the Central Ground Water Authority and the Union Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change.

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As per information, the states to which notices were issued are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Meghalaya and Nagaland. Apart from them, notices were also issued to the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Delhi and Puducherry.
 

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Published December 26th, 2023 at 19:39 IST

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