Water quality testing framework rolled out
Citizens can now have the water quality tested in their own taps at reasonable prices. This is part of a surveillance framework launched on Saturday by the centre’s flagship mission, Jal Jeevan.
Using an information management system modeled on the COVID-19 test framework, the samples tested by members of the public and government officials will create a nationwide database on water quality, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhaawat told journalists after the launch.
A major hurdle, however, is the fact that only 66 of the 2,033 water test laboratories have been certified by the National Accreditation Body for Test and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).
The “Framework and Guidelines for Testing, Monitoring and Monitoring Drinking Water Quality” published on Saturday provides for a network of NABL-accredited laboratories to be set up in every state, district and block over the next year. At the Panchayat Level, women’s teams in the village’s water and sanitation committees are given field test kits. 2% of Jal Jeevan’s £ 3.6 billion budget is earmarked for quality monitoring.
According to a 2018 assessment by the Central Groundwater Board, detailed inspection protocols and standards have been established to check for chemical and biological contamination in more than half of all blocks. State governments can include private actors in the network, but the center has capped tariffs to ensure they remain accessible to the common man.
The proposed tariffs would allow the pH, turbidity, alkalinity and hardness of a water sample to be tested for a package rate of £ 50. Testing the water for the presence of chloride, sulfate or iron would cost £ 50 each, while testing for the more dangerous arsenic, fluoride, nitrate or coliform bacteria would cost £ 100 each. A package for all 16 water quality parameters would cost £ 600. Chemical testing turnaround time shouldn’t be more than 24 hours, while biological contaminant testing should produce results within 48 hours, the guidelines say.
Aside from voluntary testing by members of the public, officials were hired to conduct regular inspections. All test results are fed into the Water Quality Information Management System, a portal developed with the support of the Indian Council for Medical Research based on its experience with the COVID-19 protocol. There the test results are transmitted to the tested person. State and national databases and local officials for further monitoring and action on positive results.
Similarly, the results of all tests will now be sent to the citizen who requested them, as well as to the WQMIS database and a local official assigned to take remedial action in the event of contamination. The measures taken must also be entered in the portal. The policy sends warnings of severe or repeated contamination in a specific area to district and country level officials.