A recent study, has found over 30 micrograms per litre (mcg/l) of the heavy metal in parts of north-western, southern and south-eastern India.
These reports of widespread uranium contamination in groundwater across India which demands an urgent response.
Groundwater contamination needs to be probed and mapped, and safe sources must be identified.
What is the issue with uranium contamination?
Reports of uranium contamination has cropped up across India in recent years, with south Bangalore recording 2000 mcg/l of uranium in groundwater.
Previously, regions of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were found to have over 500 mcg/l of uranium in their aquifers.
More recently, parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan recorded undesirable uranium levels in their waters.
Drinking such water can damage one’s kidneys, and the World Health Organization (WHO) prescribes ’30 mcg/l’ as an upper limit.
But unfortunately, the residents of the regions surveyed were using wells recording far greater uranium levels as their main source of drinking water.
Significantly, as the “Bureau of Indian Standards” does not specify a norm for uranium level, water is not tested regularly for it.
How does excess Uranium affect the health?
Preliminary studies on the health effects of drinking uranium-tainted water among animals and humans have revealed that it causes kidney damage.
Notably, this is said to be caused by the chemical effect of uranium, rather than a radiological, even though uranium is radioactive.
Nonetheless, we need more comprehensive systematic studies to establish the chronic health effects of uranium exposure.
How does uranium enter ground water?
The mechanism by which uranium enters groundwater is still under research.
Two types of terrains have been identified with heavy contamination, namely:
Alluvial aquifers in Rajasthan and other north-western regions
Crystalline rocks such as granite in southern regions like Telangana.
Some researchers havehypothesized that over-extraction of ground water exposes uranium to air, which triggers its release from the rocks.
Further research is needed in this regard as it would help in identifying regions where safer water can be found.
Notably, even information of how uranium accumulated with the rocks (during sedimentation), would help in estimating the regions of prevalence.
G.S. Paper 2
Why in news?
SCO summit adopts declaration calling for 3-year plan to combat terrorism.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders taking part in a summit in China’s Qingdao have singed the Qingdao Declaration.
The signing ceremony involved the leaders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.
The declaration calls for implementing the three-year plan to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism.
It also calls for implementation of the treaty on long-term good neighbourliness, friendship and co-operation.
The leaders adopted a total of 17 documents at the summit, which include:
documents endorsing the 2018-2022 Action Plan to implement the Treaty for Long-term Good-Neighborly Relations, Friendship and Cooperation between the SCO states
2019-2020 Program for Cooperation in countering terrorism, separatism and extremism
decision to approve the 2018-2023 Anti-Drug Strategy and an Action Plan to implement it.
an information statement
India refused to endorse China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project as part of Qingdao Declaration at the 18th SCO summit.
At the restricted session of the SCO Summit, Indian Prime Minister Modi floated concept of SECURE: ‘S’ for security for citizens, ‘E’ for economic development, ‘C’ for connectivity in the region, ‘U’ for unity, ‘R’ for respect of sovereignty and integrity, and ‘E for environment protection.
The Declaration on the Establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was singed in China’s Shanghai in June 2001 by six founding states – Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
India and Pakistan were granted SCO membership on June 9, 2017.
Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia currently enjoy observer status, while Sri Lanka, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal are dialogue partners.
The Shanghai Spiritis the main principle and founding values of the SCO, defining that all member states are equal and committed to forging good neighbourliness and sincere partnership with each other.
It features mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development.
All decisions of the SCO are made through discussions and dialogues.
On June 10, 2018, the 18th SCO Summit urged implementation of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear programmethrough joint statement was issued at the end of 18th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Deeper cooperation in numerous areas was also emphasized by members of the organization.