Impact of mining on water availability and quality in Tikamgarh, MP and Rajasamand, Rajasthan - Need experiences and inputs

From Pramel Gupta, Bhopal Rehabilitation, Bhopal
Posted 3 July 2007

We are working on supporting local communities in assessing and overcoming health risks from water contamination arising out of mining in some parts of India. Our experiences from Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasamand in Rajasthan - and based on reports from other secondary sources- show that mining activities normally cause the following adverse impacts on water availability and quality during mining and post-extraction processing:

  • Drastic reduction in the water quality in the immediate neighbourhood of mines through an increase in harmful chemicals (such as heavy metals) due to mining
  • Contamination of local surface and groundwater due to discharge of untreated effluents into water body bodies during treatment of mined ores
  • Significant changes in local hydrology, thereby disturbing water percolation and groundwater recharge patterns, and consequently reducing local freshwater availability
  • In some cases, post-mining operations may create fine dust, which pollutes surface water bodies, causing lung diseases for workers and neighbouring populations, and destroying productive capacity of adjacent agriculture lands
  • Irreversible destruction of vegetation cover due to improper mining methods and lack of restoration efforts
  • Contamination of drinking water sources by radioactive mining wastes In the above context, I request members of the water community to share the following:
  • Experiences of members from other parts of India, where mining activities are causing similar problems in water availability and water quality
  • Initiatives taken by government, mining authorities, civil society, local residents and people’s groups to overcome these problems
  • Projects where suitable preventive and curative steps have ensured that negative impacts of mining and mineral treatment have been successfully controlled and overcome, causing little or no contamination of local drinking water sources

Additional suggestions on how current Laws/ Policies/ Acts can be utilized to check such water pollution; areas where these can be strengthened; and how enforcement of these can be improved are most welcome.

Your inputs will help us in designing strategies for tacking such problems in our field implementation areas, and would be most appreciated.

Please see attachment below for the responses.