Research paper finds soil, water surrounding Silchar dumping area to be ‘extremely contaminated’

Silchar, June 5 : Research paper published in an international journal of Energy and Water Resources, Springer 2021, and performed by group of students passionate about environmental conservation from Karimganj College, has mentioned unscientific dumping of municipal wastes in dumping site of Silchar at Nagapatty area has led to ‘extremely contaminated’ soil and groundwater of the area, necessitating immediate extensive remediation measures.

The research was conducted by a team, comprising Late Mr. Rahul Das and Mr. Gaurav Roy, who is now associated with the Voice of Environment (VoE), a youth-based non-governmental organization based in Guwahati, Assam, led the pilot study involving sampling of groundwater and soil samples.

The preliminary study was done under the scholarly guidance of Mr. Moharana Choudhury, an environmentalist from Assam, Dr. Dibakar Deb, Head of Chemistry Department in Karimganj College, and Dr. Sumita Paul Purkayastha, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry. The study was followed by detailed data analysis and stakeholder engagement programs, including community sensitization and mobilization.

Survey area

The study indicates impact of the municipal waste disposal site on trace element contamination levels in soil and groundwater. The soil was found to be ‘extremely contaminated’ with respect to the geo-accumulation index. The observations indicate the impacts of nearby dumpsite on environmental parameters, such as groundwater and soil quality.

“Extremely high geo-accumulation indices indicate towards ‘extremely contaminated’ status of the soils with respect to all analyzed elements point towards the potential effect of the open dumping process. Majority of the groundwater samples exhibited pH levels below the desired limits” the research paper mentioned.

The research team was also enriched by expertise of eminent scientist Prof K G Bhattacharya, Department of Chemistry, Gauhati University, Assam. One of the authors of the study, Late Mr. Rahul Das, lost his life during a road accident in Guwahati in the year 2016. The research team was actively helped during sampling by local social worker Mr. Prabal Dutta and members of the organization ‘Voice of Environment’.

“In the current study, detailed analysis of the soil and groundwater samples for physicochemical parameters and trace elements showed that the quality of the soil and groundwater in and around the municipality dumping site at Nagapatty, Silchar has been affected by the open dumping of untreated MSW” the study asserts.

Dumping area

“While Fe, Cu and Ni levels in groundwater samples exceeded the guideline values, Cr and Zn concentrations were found to be within limits. The levels of As were also found to be within limits except for one sample” the research thesis mentioned.

Open Municipal dumping sites possess negative impacts on environment and human health. Similar studies obtaining similar results elsewhere have proposed the closure of open dumping and landfill sites.

The researchers red marked that the groundwater of the study area is found to be unreliable for drinking water supply purposes and the soil is unfit for agriculture and allied purposes, unless extensive remediation measures are taken in future.  “Municipal Solid Waste Management requires proactive attention with structured development plan to be laid out by the local governance of the area under consideration” the researchers mentioned.

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