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Arsenic Contamination in Ganga-Brahmaputra Plains

Arsenic Contamination in Ganga-Brahmaputra Plains

Central Ground Water Board in the ensuing National Aquifer Mapping programme has constructed several exploratory and observation Wells in the Country tapping the arsenic safe deeper aquifer zones delineated through exploration aided detailed aquifer mapping.  Successful wells have been handed over to the State Governments for their purposeful utilization.Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has informed that the States are assisted technically and financially in providing safe drinking water through the centrally sponsored National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP).  Upto 67% of funds provided to the States under NRDWP can be utilized for coverage and tackling water quality problems with priority to Arsenic and Fluoride affected habitations.  In addition, the States also received certain funds under the 5% Water Quality earmarked funds. The State Governments have been directed to ensure availability of safe drinking water through Piped Water Supply as a long term measures.  Since tackling this problem is a long term measure, NITI Aayog, as a stop gap arrangement, is supporting the State Governments for installation of Community Water Purification Plants for providing safe drinking water in the rural habitations of the Country, where water is contaminated with Arsenic and Fluoride.  To this end, over and above the regular allocation of funds under NRDWP, on the recommendations of NITI Aayog, Ministry of Finance has released Rs. 800.00 Crore during the financial year 2015-16 as a one-time 100% Central assistance to the States affected with water quality from Arsenic and Fluoride in the Country.  In addition, based on the recommendations of NITI Aayog, Ministry of Finance has also released Rs. 100.00 crore to each of the State of Rajasthan and West Bengal during the financial year 2015-16 to ensure supply of safe drinking water through surface water based piped water supply schemes in quality affected habitations as last mile connectivity.Since the problem of contamination of water by Arsenic and Fluoride has been serious in the rural habitations, Central Government has taken cognizance of this serious problem and decided to take short-term and long term measures with a ring fenced funding to tackle this problem in the remaining habitations of the Country.  Over and above the normal release of funds to the States, during 2016-17, under NRDWP, the Centre share amounting to Rs. 746.23 crore has also been released to the States affected with Arsenic and Fluoride under Water Quality Sub-Mission in the ratio of 90:10 (Centre:State) for Northern–Eastern States and 50:50 (Centre:State) for other States focusing on mitigation of contamination of Fluoride and Arsenic in drinking water.This information was given by Union Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Dr Sanjeev Kumar Balyan in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on 27th March 2017.

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