Pachagi Kheda

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Heavy metals / 2020

Arvind Chauhan, UP: Heavy metal presence in water takes toll on this Agra village’s health, June 14, 2020: The Times of India

BARAULI AHIR (AGRA): Narendra Kushwaha, her brother, said, “I’m just 28 years old, but every morning, when I wake up, there is severe pain in my knees. Almost every villager has one or the other bone-related ailment due to drinking this hard groundwater.”

The problem has been traced to consumption of groundwater which has excessive heavy metal content like calcium, fluoride, sulfate and iron. Scores of villagers of this Agra village suffer from arthritis, fluorosis, teeth pigmentation, blurred vision, anaemia, renal problem and other ailments.

A recent groundwater toxicology study in nine districts of west UP by CSIR-IITR, Lucknow, has found that Agra's groundwater in 23 villages/urban areas has excessive calcium and 19 others have heavy iron content. The fluoride content is also beyond the desirable limit in all the 25 locations of Agra from where water samples were taken for tests. Furthermore, 10 locations in the district (the highest in West UP) have excessive sulfate up to 513.83 mg/l against the desirable limit of 200 mg/l.

Radhye Shayam, gram pradhan of Pachagi Kheda, said, “Over 150 villagers are physically challenged due to heavy calcium consumption via hard water, while over 70% of the village population has arthritis and tooth pigmentation. The problem persists for many generations.” According to state food and civil supplies department, there are 4105 souls in Pachagi Kheda village.

He said repeated demands for water supply either from Ganga Jal project or from Chambal river basin have fallen on deaf ears.

Speaking with TOI, RK Sharma, executive engineer of Jal Nigam who is looking after the water tank project at the village, said, “We have bored two tubewells at the village which have fresh water with permissible limit salts. The same was checked by our Lucknow-based lab. A third one is being developed. The tubewell is expected to provide water for at least 20 years, and the tank will be in service till 2050.”

According to Jal Nigam sources, although the Pachagi Kheda has hard groundwater (over 400 mg/L of calcium), it also has certain patches of fresh water sources.

The residents of Pachagi Kheda will start getting fresh water supply in six months, says Jal Nigam. Till then, villagers will have to depend on RO water that they purchase for Rs 5 per 20 litres from private vendors.

Block development officer (Barauli Ahir) Ankur Kaushik said, “The area has an excessive heavy metal presence in the groundwater.”

Agra chief medical officer Dr RC Pandey said, “I have recently taken charge and am not aware of the health issues villagers are facing due to the presence of heavy metals in the groundwater. I will check the records and required treatment will be provided to those in trouble".

The local MLA, however, said efforts are on to deal with the problem.

Agra (rural) MLA Hemlata Diwakar Kushwaha said, “I am aware of the problems being faced by the villagers. Recently, I have got one overhead water storage tank approved from chief minister Yogi Adityanath. It will be connected to a freshwater source available in a nearby village. Besides, two tubewells have already been developed on my proposals and another one is under development. I am also trying to get the Ganga water supplied to the village.”

(Inputs from Deepak Lavania)

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