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Narmada water remains contaminated, Gujarat govt "changed norms" to declare it fit to drink

Suresh Mehta flanked by Mahesh Pandya and Hemantkumar Shah
By Our Representative
The Lokshahi Bachao Andolan, a Gujarat-based civil rights organization headed by former BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta, has alleged that the state government has changed the minimum acceptable standard of drinking water from 500 milligrams per liter of TDS to 2,000 milligrams, risking the health of crores of people of Gujarat. Pointing out that the permissible limit for water has been changed in “10 of the 13 norms”, addressing media, its members said, “The total hardness has been increased from 200 to 600.”
Prof Hemantkumar Shah, a senior economist, alleged, quoting Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board (GWSSB) data, that “all the standards for water, color, turbidity, calcium, magnesium, chloride, sulfate, fluoride and alkalinity etc. have been revised upwards, in some cases for up to 200 per cent, while in other cases by 400 per cent.”
Suggesting that this has been done against the backdrop of Narmada waters getting contaminated, Mahesh Pandya, a senior environmentalist who heads the Ahmedabad-based Paryavaran Mitra, said, early this year, drinking water sourced from Narmada and supplied to approximately 4 crore people of 9,083 villages and 166 cities of the state was “stopped” because of reports that it had become polluted.
There were reports that the water in Narmada main canal had become black and a large number of fishes had died. “However, shockingly, within three days of the state government, despite admitting high pollution levels, “started the supply of water within three days”, even though the water quality remained the same as before.
“GWSSB did this by saying that water had bacterial but could be used after cleansing it. But the fact is, it continued providing contaminated water without purifying it and people did not even know of it”, Pandya alleged, adding, “Besides, GWSSB has admitted that there is a lot of sulfide in Narmada water. This has happened after the state government started removing crocodiles from Narmada to ensure safe landing of seaplane.”
Quoting a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, Pandya said the state government had set up a water quality monitoring committee, which met only six times during the nine year period of 2003-11. “There is indication that after 2011 any meeting has taken place”, he added.
Asked whether any voluntary organization, including Paryavaran Mitra, had undertaken any independent laboratory tests of contamination to ascertain water quality today, Mehta told media, “We have collected samples and preliminary results suggest high bacteria level. We will soon release the results soon.”

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