Indmedica Home | About Indmedica | Medical Jobs | Advertise On Indmedica
Search Indmedica Web
Indmedica - India's premier medical portal

Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Universal Right to Safe Water

Author(s): Verma A, Bansal R.K.

Vol. 32, No. 1 (2007-01 - 2007-03)

Letter to Editor

An Indian study had found high presence of arsenic, fluoride,chromium, iron, manganese, mercury, nickel and other metals in water sources in areas around the East Parej and North Karanpura coalfields leading to morbidity and mortality. Another article had reported about various contaminants especially metals finding their way into the food chain due to city sewage, waste and effluents disposal patterns. A study by the Central Pollution Control Board and the Calcutta University had reported lead, cadmium and nickel in vegetables. Studies have established that cauliflower grown in the Dhapa-Bantala area contains about 44.1 mg of lead and 3.3 mg of cadmium in every kilogram of produce. Leafy vegetables like spinach grown in the area contained 101.5 mg of lead per kilogram of produce. Another study1 had found chronic arsenic toxicity in people and ground water source contamination in South Calcutta close to a Paris green factory. It has been estimated that 45 Lakh to 60 Lakh people are exposed to elevated arsenic concentration in drinking water in India2. Our rivers are also notoriously contaminated by heavy metals and fish in the River Damodar, for instance, are among such items entering the food chain. Newspapers in Gujarat had reported of an instance of severe acid burn injuries on the banks of a rivulet Mini highlighting the practice of discharge of wastes including acids, vinyl sulphone and alpha blue into this rivulet by chemical industries despite court rulings. Somehow these industries manage such practices and even obtain “zero discharge” government certificates, which entitle them to incarcerate their effluents within their premises.

Similarly often untreated or partially treated sewage in discharged into rivers or used for agriculture with its attendant risks. These are not isolated instances and our newspapers are agog with similar reports. This is a sad predicament for technologically and resource restrained developing countries. It is a no-win situation for them as they are unable to strike a balance between development and ecopreservation and employment.

Our newspapers occasionally carry derogatory reports of our rivers being sewers. Whatever be the accusations, one fact is clear that urgent remedial measures are needed to deal with this problem of water management if we are to preserve human and animal health. Waterborne diseases contribute significantly to morbidity, mortality and disability adjusted life years3. We need to enforce the concept of “universal right to safe water” and work globally to achieve this shared responsibility. Otherwise it would be a daunting task to deal with the resultant diseases. It also needs to be stated that with globalisation food produce could find their way in any nation.

References

  1. Mazumder DN, Das Gupta J, Chakraborty AK, Chatterjee A, Das D, Chakraborti D. Environmental pollution and chronic arsenicosis in south Calcutta. Bulletin of World Health Organization 1992; 70 (4): 481-5.
  2. Fewtrell L, Fuge R, Kay D. An estimation of the global burden of disease due to skin lesion caused by arsenic in drinking water. Journal of Water and Health 2005; 3 (2): 101-7.
  3. World health report 2002- Reducing risks, promoting healthy life style. World Health Organization Geneva 2002.

Verma A, Bansal R.K.
Surat Municipal Instt. of Medical Education & Research, Surat – 395010, Gujarat.
E-mail: [email protected]
Received: 05.05.06

Access free medical resources from Wiley-Blackwell now!

About Indmedica - Conditions of Usage - Advertise On Indmedica - Contact Us

Copyright © 2005 Indmedica