Environmentalists blamed cement and thermal factories along the Sutlaj River for polluting the water, apart from effluents released into the river from factories in Himachal Pradesh.
"The industrial effluents released from a thermal plant near Ghanoli in Ropar is going into the river and percolating into the ground water. When people draw the water from a hand pump or a well, it has lot of sulphur and other chemicals," said Jaswant Singh, an environmentalist in Ropar.
People living in about 20 villages mainly use ground water, which has a high sulphur content. They say the water drawn from a well or hand pump looks yellow and tastes weird and it is inflicting skin diseases.
"We can't work in this water for long. If you do, you get various skin diseases and it also upsets the stomach," said Jaswant Singh, a patient.
There has been a sudden increase in the number of people visiting health centers due to various water-borne diseases.
"Contaminated water is the main problem here. We are getting lot of patients with skin disease, boils, diarrhea and cholera," said Amandeep Kaur, a pharmacist at a local health center.
The polluted water in the area may endanger human and wild life, say environmentalists. By Sunil Sharma