GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
STARRED QUESTION NO *114
TO BE ANSWERED ON 24.10.2008
Contaminated Drinking Water .
SHRI RAJEEV CHANDRASEKHAR
Will the Minister of HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE be pleased to state:-
(a) whether Government is aware of the increasing health hazards posed by unsafe/contaminated drinking water with high levels of heavy metals and pesticides used by farmers in many cities and States; and
(b) if so, the steps Government proposes to take to address this issue?
THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE
(DR. ANBUMANI RAMADOSS)
(a)&(b): A statement is laid on the Table of the House.
STATEMENT REFERRED TO IN REPLY TO RAJYA SABHA STARRED QUESTION NO. 4 FOR 24TH OCTOBER, 2008
Consumption of contaminated water is a health hazard. Prolonged use of water contaminated with arsenic for drinking causes diseases like dermatosis, keratosis, conjunctivitis, bronchitis, gastro-enteritis in the initial stage and peripheral neuropathis, hepatopathis melanosis, de-pigmentation and hyper-keratosis. The effect of excessive amount of fluoride on human body is dental molting, skeletal and crippling fluorosis. Heavy metals like lead may cause irreversible brain damage, seizure coma, fatigue, irritability etc. and repeated prolonged exposure to mercury can result in severe disturbances in central nervous system, kidneys, liver etc.
As per available information, ground water in major parts of the country is by and large potable. There are, however, areas which have poor quality of ground water mainly due to contamination from water bearing rocks, excessive use of fertilizers, industrial and domestic effluents, mining wastes, saline water ingress etc.
The health hazards due to consumption of contaminated water can be combated by supply of safe drinking water. Water, being a State subject, it is primarily the responsibility of State Governments to check ground water pollution. However, the Union Government has also taken following measures to tackle the problem of water pollution.
The Policy Statement also emphasizes the need for addressing pollution of water from run-off of agricultural inputs such as pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, etc.
The Policy Statement recommends a long term policy for pesticides use, including the introduction of environmentally acceptable pesticides particularly bio-pesticides and non-persistent bio-degradable ones, and integrated pest management together with the phasing out of the proven harmful toxic and persistent ones to be implemented in collaboration with the concerned Ministries.