90% wastewater in India being released without treatment

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Kolkata, Oct 25: Almost 90 per cent of sewage water generated in India is being released in the rivers and other water sources without any treatment or purification, Everything About Water Pvt Ltd Managing Director (MD) Sunil Ghorawat has revealed.

Speaking at a press conference here yesterday to announce an exhibition and international conference on water and waste water management from November 1-3, Mr Ghorawat said, ''Almost 1.3 billion litres of raw sewage and 250 million litres of industrial effluents is released in the river Ganga every year.

''Indian cities generate approximately 20 million cubic metres sewage every year with majority of industries being unaware or least inclined to treat the water they use or dispose,'' he added.

He said though being endowed with 7.5 per cent of the country's water resources, West Bengal was facing acute water scarcity with the uncontrolled growth of population, expansion of irrigation network and developmental needs.

Even though the state received an average annual rainfall of 1750 mm, its major part ended up flowing into the sea due to lack of awareness about water management, including rain water harvesting techniques.

''The Bengal delta, which was previously described as an area of excess water, now suffers from acute dearth during lean months. Per capita water availability has fallen from 996 cubic metres in 1991 to 884 cubic metres in 2001 and is expected to fall further to 720 cubic metres in 2011,'' the MD said.

The Hooghly river belt has about 150 industries on both its banks which release untreated sewage water from 270 outlets into the river.

Besides scarcity, another grave problem faced by the Indian water scenario was that of pollution from arsenic and flouride which have been proved to be carcinogenic if taken over a long period.

''The ever increasing exploitation of groundwater in West Bengal has brought forth the problem of arsenic poisoning in nine districts, including Kolkata, where occurrence of arsenic beyond the permissible limit (more than 0.05-3.24 mg/l) in groundwater has been found, exposing about 26 million people to great danger. The rice crop, which is the principal foodgrain of the region, has also been found laced with arsenic,'' Mr Ghorawat revealed.

Similarly, the groundwater, in Nalhati and Rampurhat blocks of Birbhum district, was found contaminated with flouride while iron in groundwater still continued to haunt the districts of Midnapore, Howrah, Hooghly and Bankura.

Besides, the problems of arsenic, flouride and iron pollution were also being faced by Nagaon, Kamrup and Karbi Anglong districts in Assam as well as the rest of North East India.

Mr Ghorawat also revealed that the West Bengal government had spent approximately Rs 163 crore during the last five years for implementing 13 major schemes of water conservation.

''Everything About Water RegEx, 2007, will see the congregation of all leading players in the water arena and provide the best platform for them to deliberate, discuss and elaborate on the recent developments and technological advances in the water supply and sanitation sector and find effective solutions to conserve the world's most precious resource - water,'' he said.

The exhibition would also include a conference on ''Clear Solutions to Clean Water'', where renowned experts and famous speakers on water and waste water management will address the audience.

Mr Ghorawat claimed that more than 100 delegates from the government as well as private sectors were expected to attend the conference and participate in the deliberations.

Besides, a training workshop on reverse osmosis and membrane technology would be conducted by noted expert Satish Chilekar, he added.


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