Experts Warn Of Water Crisis

Experts Warn Of Water Crisis

An Article in "The Telegraph" Kolkata Edition

Experts warn of water crisis

Calcutta may soon face multiple problems, including arsenic contamination, caused by unregulated use of groundwater, experts have warned.

“Calcutta and its suburbs seem heading for a crisis. Uninterrupted withdrawal of groundwater, mainly by high-rise buildings, is lowering the water table and resulting in arsenic-contaminated water being sucked into the city’s groundwater stream from the southern and northern fringes,” Pradip Sikdar, an expert on groundwater, said at the annual summit organised by environmental platform Sabuj Mancha on Sunday.

According to data, the groundwater consumption in the city has increased nearly six times over the past 60 years: from 55m litres a day in 1956 to 305m litres now.

Sikdar warned that dumping of market waste and other organic garbage in Adi Ganga, as well as open defecation in the channel, are triggering the release of the arsenic trapped in the stream bed into the groundwater through chemical reactions. “The areas along the Adi Ganga channel are the worst affected,” said Sikdar.

Another expert, Arunabha Majumdar, also a member of the state task force on arsenic pollution, said the threat of Calcutta’s groundwater being contaminated with arsenic was on the rise.

Not just arsenic. A 10-year study has found significant amount of toxic heavy metals in the water under Calcutta and Howrah. “The water under BBD Bag and its surroundings is contaminated with copper, while nickel has been found in the water under Beleghata and areas further north. The Howrah groundwater has high levels of cadmium, nickel and copper, apart from arsenic,” said an expert associated with the study conducted by the environment department of the IISWBM.

“The groundwater level is falling in the districts around Calcutta. The city’s groundwater is bound to be affected,” said water expert Kalyan Rudra.