synthetic fertilisers polluting Punjab groundwater: Greenpeace

Bathinda (Punjab), Nov 26 ( The excessive use of chemical fertilisers in Punjab has led to high levels of nitrate contamination in the groundwater, Greenpeace has said in a study conducted across some Punjab districts. Nitrate contamination in water can cause health hazards, including stomach cancer.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the medical fraternity Thursday voiced concern over the results of the Greenpeace study, released at a media conference here. The study was done in farms across Muktsar, Bathinda and Ludhiana districts, a statement here said.

According to Greenpeace, most of the farms it surveyed had well water contaminated with nitrates, while 20 percent of all sampled wells had nitrate levels above the safety limit of 50 mg per litre, as established by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The farmers surveyed used an average of 322 kg of Nitrogen fertiliser per hectare, which is 53 percent higher than the state average of 310 kg per hectare, it said.

Shiv Dutt Gupta, president of the IMA’s Bathinda unit, said the medical association was “deeply concerned with the results of the Greenpeace study and the medical fraternity would raise the issue at all possible platform.”

“The IMA will also write a letter to both the central and state government, highlighting the issue and demanding immediate action.”

Umendra Dutt, executive director of Kheti Virasat Mission, an NGO, said the “irrational subsidy doled out by the government” had led to the “excessive usage of synthetic fertilisers, leading to the colossal damage to water, soil and human health”.

He called for a shift from synthetic to organic nitrogen fertilisers, which he said would “protect our health and natural resources and also ensure sustainable food security. What is lacking is the political will”.