The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed its attention to the northeastern states, including Tripura, in response to concerns about the alarming presence of arsenic and fluoride in groundwater. The other states under scrutiny are Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Nagaland.
Terming the situation as “very serious” and demanding “urgent preventive and protective steps,” the NGT has issued notices to 24 states and four Union Territories. The tribunal’s intervention follows a suo motu cognizance taken based on a media report highlighting the exceeding levels of arsenic and fluoride in groundwater across various states and Union Territories, including Delhi.According to the report, arsenic has been detected in groundwater in parts of 230 districts across 25 states, while fluoride was found in some pockets of 469 districts in 27 states.The NGT bench, comprising Judicial Member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Expert Member A Senthil Vel, referred to a report submitted by the Central Ground Water Authority. The report admitted the presence of arsenic and fluoride in several districts and states. The bench emphasized the serious toxic effects of these chemicals on human health, causing potential health hazards.While acknowledging that water is a state subject, the tribunal expressed dissatisfaction with the Central Ground Water Authority’s lack of independent action on the matter. It stressed the urgency of preventive and protective measures by all concerned authorities.Apart from the northeastern states, notices were also issued to Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, and Maharashtra. Union Territories, including Jammu and Kashmir, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Delhi, and Puducherry, are also expected to respond.The NGT is set to resume the hearing on February 15, emphasizing the urgency of addressing the critical issue of arsenic and fluoride contamination in groundwater.