Fund boost in arsenic fight

OPERATION CLEAN UP: Sushil Kumar Modi (right) at the event on Wednesday. Picture by Manoj Kumar

Patna: The state government will spend Rs 391.60 crore to supply arsenic-free drinking water in 961 habitations along the banks of the Ganga by next year.

These habitations are located in Buxar, Bhojpur, Patna, Vaishali, Saran, Samastipur, Lakhisarai, Begusarai, Khagaria and Katihar districts. A few habitations in Darbhanga district have also been included in the scheme.

Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who heads the environment and forest department, made this announcement during the inaugural session of a stakeholders' meeting on Ganga rejuvenation here on Wednesday. The Bihar state pollution control board event saw experts deliberate on how to rejuvenate the river.

Modi said that 3,467 habitations spread over Rohtas, Kaimur, Aurangabad, Gaya, Nawada, Nalanda, Munger, Sheikhpura, Jamui, Banka and Bhagalpur districts were facing fluoride contamination in water while 17,833 habitations spread over Begusarai, Khagaria, Saharsa, Supaul, Madhepura, Katihar, Araria, Purnea and Kishanganj districts had excess iron content in water.

"The state government has sanctioned projects worth Rs 7439.25 crore for ensuring supply of pure drinking water in the affected habitations by 2019-20," Modi said.

He said the government was spending Rs 4,166 crore on curbing pollutants from flowing into the Ganga, including for setting up of sewerage treatment plants in 20 towns, ending open defecation in villages along the river, setting up of electric crematoriums and intensive green drives.

Funds to the tune of Rs 1,169 crore would be spent to set up sewerage treatment plants in Beur, Karmalichak, Saidpur and Pahari in Patna and another one in Buxar.

New sewerage systems are also being set up in Patna, Mokama, Sultanganj, Barh, Naugachia, Bhagalpur, Munger, Begusarai and Hajipur at a cost of Rs 3,715 crore.

The works are being done under the Centre's Namami Gange project.

At Wednesday's event, pollution control board chairman Ashok Ghosh said the board would work with other institutions including IIT Roorkee, IIT Kharagpur, National Institute of Hydrology Roorkee and Mahavir Cancer Institute Patna for research on water pollution. Experts such as S.N. Jaiswal of the pollution board, David Palya of the University of Manchester and Debapriya Mondal of the University of Salford also threw light on aspects related to the Ganga and water pollution issues.


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