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Victoria deep tubewells yield arsenic

The civic authorities have sealed the deep tubewells at Victoria Memorial Hall after all the test reports from the laboratories of the School of Tropical Medicine, Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and the department of public health engineering confirmed arsenic contamination beyond permissible limits.

According to mayoral council member (water supply) Sovan Chatterjee, the concentration of arsenic in the underground aquifer of Victoria Memorial has been found four times higher than the tolerable benchmark set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The CMC has made alternate arrangements to supply safe water to Victoria.

This is the first time that arsenic has been detected in the heart of the city. Alarmed at the high concentration of arsenic in the underground water sources in the city proper, the civic authorities have decided to discontinue the renewal of licences for deep tubewells in highrises.

“We have drawn up a scheme to phase out CMC-run deep tubewells in two years’ time and with this end in view, projects are underway at Tallah to augment the supply of filtered surface water by 40 million gallons a day,” said mayor Subrata Mukherjee.

Chatterjee said indiscriminate drawing of water from the underground aquifer of the city was the root cause of arsenic contamination. “If immediate action is not taken, contamination will assume alarming proportions in the near future”.

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