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Ray of hope in CAG report on groundwater

By Spl correspondent
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NEW DELHI, Dec 17 � In what could come as a breather for the Assam Government, the groundwater level in the State was found to be non-critical, though rivers and lakes in some areas were found to be contaminated and polluted.

The performance audit of �Water pollution in India� prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and tabled in the Parliament on Friday, holds out some hope on the groundwater front, even as none of the State�s rivers and lakes were found to be over-exploited and critical.�

However, there is a catch as lakes like Dhir Beel, Dighali Beel, Bharalu and Kolong, which figure in the list of most polluted rivers in India, have not been included under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP), the report said.

According to the Central Ground Water Board, the annual replenishable groundwater resources in Assam are 27.23 BCM and net annual groundwater availability is 24.89 BCM. Out of the 23 districts in the State, none of them is over-exploited, critical or semi-critical with regard to groundwater.

�Contaminants like fluoride, iron and arsenic affect parts of some districts in Assam,� the report said.

The report though mentions that the assessment of water quality and identification of risks to the environment and health could not be verified on account of lack of evidence.

The State�s initiative for prevention and control of water pollution were described as partial. Assam�s capacity for sewage treatment in Class I and II cities were found to be nil. The total sewage generated in Class I and II cities of the State is 386.60 MLD, for which no treatment capacity is available, the report said.

Apart from the lakes mentioned in the list of most polluted, a few more, including Morikolong Beel, Diplai Beel, Hakma Beel, Sivasagar and Joysagar were identified as polluted. However, none of these lakes was included for restoration and conservation under NLCP, it was stated.

Major rivers running across the State include Brahmaputra, Buridihing, Dhansiri, Dihing and Manas among others and some of the lakes include Deepor Beel, Morikolong, Maguri Beel, Hakma Beel among others.

Elsewhere in the North-east, the CAG carried out audit in Nagaland and Tripura. The groundwater level availability in the State was described as generally good. Even though Diphu has been selected for cleaning up under NRC, it was observed that the river did not figure in the list of polluted rivers prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board. As the river was not critically polluted, taking up the river under NRCP was not justified.

The CAG has also questioned taking up of the twin lakes Amok and Yimdong Awatsung under the National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP), as they did not meet the selection criteria set out by the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

According to the Ministry, scientific criteria like discharge of industrial and domestic waste water into the lakes and degradation of quality of lake water should be used while selecting a lake. It was observed that no such data on scientific criteria were available with Nagaland, yet the twin lakes were selected under the NLCP, the CAG remarked.

The total cost of the project was Rs 25.83 crore, which is to be shared by the Centre and Nagaland in the ratio of 90:10.

In case of Tripura the audit found that water in some of the districts of the State were affected by iron. Though the State Pollution Control Bureau had identified as polluted the stretch in downstream of river Haora in Agartala, no rivers in the State had been included under the NRCP.

At least three lakes � Dimsagar, Laxminarayanbari and Durgabari � were selected under NLCP for restoration and conservation. However, selection of the three lakes under the Plan did not meet the selection criteria, the CAG noted.

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Ray of hope in CAG report on groundwater

NEW DELHI, Dec 17 � In what could come as a breather for the Assam Government, the groundwater level in the State was found to be non-critical, though rivers and lakes in some areas were found to be contaminated and polluted.

The performance audit of �Water pollution in India� prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and tabled in the Parliament on Friday, holds out some hope on the groundwater front, even as none of the State�s rivers and lakes were found to be over-exploited and critical.�

However, there is a catch as lakes like Dhir Beel, Dighali Beel, Bharalu and Kolong, which figure in the list of most polluted rivers in India, have not been included under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP), the report said.

According to the Central Ground Water Board, the annual replenishable groundwater resources in Assam are 27.23 BCM and net annual groundwater availability is 24.89 BCM. Out of the 23 districts in the State, none of them is over-exploited, critical or semi-critical with regard to groundwater.

�Contaminants like fluoride, iron and arsenic affect parts of some districts in Assam,� the report said.

The report though mentions that the assessment of water quality and identification of risks to the environment and health could not be verified on account of lack of evidence.

The State�s initiative for prevention and control of water pollution were described as partial. Assam�s capacity for sewage treatment in Class I and II cities were found to be nil. The total sewage generated in Class I and II cities of the State is 386.60 MLD, for which no treatment capacity is available, the report said.

Apart from the lakes mentioned in the list of most polluted, a few more, including Morikolong Beel, Diplai Beel, Hakma Beel, Sivasagar and Joysagar were identified as polluted. However, none of these lakes was included for restoration and conservation under NLCP, it was stated.

Major rivers running across the State include Brahmaputra, Buridihing, Dhansiri, Dihing and Manas among others and some of the lakes include Deepor Beel, Morikolong, Maguri Beel, Hakma Beel among others.

Elsewhere in the North-east, the CAG carried out audit in Nagaland and Tripura. The groundwater level availability in the State was described as generally good. Even though Diphu has been selected for cleaning up under NRC, it was observed that the river did not figure in the list of polluted rivers prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board. As the river was not critically polluted, taking up the river under NRCP was not justified.

The CAG has also questioned taking up of the twin lakes Amok and Yimdong Awatsung under the National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP), as they did not meet the selection criteria set out by the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

According to the Ministry, scientific criteria like discharge of industrial and domestic waste water into the lakes and degradation of quality of lake water should be used while selecting a lake. It was observed that no such data on scientific criteria were available with Nagaland, yet the twin lakes were selected under the NLCP, the CAG remarked.

The total cost of the project was Rs 25.83 crore, which is to be shared by the Centre and Nagaland in the ratio of 90:10.

In case of Tripura the audit found that water in some of the districts of the State were affected by iron. Though the State Pollution Control Bureau had identified as polluted the stretch in downstream of river Haora in Agartala, no rivers in the State had been included under the NRCP.

At least three lakes � Dimsagar, Laxminarayanbari and Durgabari � were selected under NLCP for restoration and conservation. However, selection of the three lakes under the Plan did not meet the selection criteria, the CAG noted.

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