Groundwater in villages bordering Bandhwari landfill site to be tested

Taking cognizance of a complaint lodged by a local activist, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on May 20 commissioned a survey of groundwater in four villages near the city, whose residents fear that their reserves have been contaminated due to pollution from the Bandhwari landfill.

Testing will be done by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute’s (NEERI) Environmental Impact & Risk Assessment division, according to letters exchanged among CPCB, HSPCB and NEERI (copies of which are with HT).

Environmentalist Vaishali Rana Chandra, who has been tracking the Bandhwari pollution crisis for many years, wrote to the CPCB on May 9, requesting that the groundwater in Gwal Pahari, Baliawas, Kot and Mandi villages, which lie downstream from the garbage dump, be tested. Run-off from the hilly Aravalli region, where Bandhwari lies, feeds an aquifer that continues through the villages of Gwal Pahari and Baliwas and onward to Ghata, Sector 45 and Civil Lines. Mandi and Kot lie in Faridabad, and are also connected with this aquifer.

While no deadline has been set for completion of this survey, HSPCB officials said they are working together with scientists from NEERI to expedite it.

S Narayanan, member secretary, HSPCB, said, “We are also taking up the issue of creating a statewide policy on groundwater pollution, with a uniform system to identify and take action against sources and violators. The matter is pending discussion with the Haryana chief secretary, at a meeting next month, and will be undertaken by the state’s river rejuvenation committee, which is also concerned with the conservation of groundwater.”

Chandra, meanwhile, emphasised on the need to provide interim relief to these villages, which continue to rely on groundwater for daily sustenance in the absence of canal supply.

On May 13, in a case pertaining to groundwater contamination by industries near Chirhada village in Rewari, the National Green Tribunal ordered that the Central Ground Water Board and the HSPCB conduct an assessment of the region’s groundwater. The district administration was also ordered to supply drinking water to affected areas.

Two years after residents of Bandhwari raised the alarm over groundwater pollution and its impact to their health, residents in these settlements, which lie a little further off, are also demanding that authorities take steps to ascertain the extent of pollution. Previous reports, such as 2017 one by the CPCB, have already declared Bandhwari’s groundwater unsafe for consumption.

HT had reported these concerns on May 16. At the time, physicist and ecologist Vikram Soni, of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said that it is likely that contaminants have made their way into these villages, after percolating into the ground from the landfill. However, there is no sure way of saying so unless a detailed groundwater modelling analysis of the area is carried.

“Certain pollutants might move at a rate of just a few metres every year, but some might move at a rate of a hundred metres every year. There is no way to speculate on the exact situation,” Soni had said.

First Published:
May 26, 2019 23:58 IST

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