Fresh water crisis looms large over Jaffna

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 12 November 2002, 16:38 GMT]
Jaffna is running out of drinking water because its underground fresh water sources are getting polluted rapidly, said a German expert in the northern town Tuesday. Mr. H. Karft, the German expert, spoke about the drinking water crisis that Jaffna will have to face if adequate measures are not taken to arrest pollution of the underground water sources of the peninsula at the regional office of the GTZ.

The Commissioner of the Jaffna Municipal Council and the Medical Officer of Health for the northern district were among those who were presentTuesday for the discussion with Mr. Karft.

The German expert said that seepage from the significantly large amount of exploded and unexploded ordnance, ammunition, land mines, explosives etc., that have accumulated in the Jaffna soil over the years is polluting underground water sources in the peninsula. Indiscriminate burial or decay of bodies near water sources has also contributed their share to the contamination, according to him.

In some areas a thin film of oil is found on fresh drinking water in wells due to careless disposal of waste oil and fuel. Fresh water sources near the Jaffna town are being rapidly polluted due to indiscriminate garbage dumping practices of the Jaffna Hospital and Municipal Council, he said.

Garbage and refuse from the thousand bed Jaffna Teaching Hospital is dumped near the old CeyNor building in Gurunagar, a coastal suburb of the northern town. The Jaffna Municipal Council too dumps garbage here, leading to severe pollution of fresh water sources below the surface in the environs of this densely populated suburb, Mr. Karft said.

He said he had observed a significant rise in the ammonium and nitrogen content in the soilin recent times in the Tinnevely area largely due to dumping and decay of agricultural wastes. Both are a potent polluters of under ground fresh water sources.

A fresh water stream in the island of Delft is turning saline because it is flowing into the sea without proper diversion to collect and utilise its water, he observed.

The problem of Jaffna’s dwindling fresh water sources should be addressed within 10-12 years before rapid commercialisation starts to impede the effort in order to avert the crisis, according to him.

 

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