Thursday, 11 July 2013

One dies from contaminated water in Rajokri

  • 70 percent of Delhi water is contaminated –Shikha Rai
  •  If you can’t give safe drinking water to Delhi then CM should resign-Sarita Chowdhary

New Delhi, July 11. A 36-year-old man was killed and about a dozen people reportedly took ill after drinking contaminated water sourced from bore-wells in a jhuggi-jhonpri cluster near the BSF camp at Rajokri in South-West Delhi. The incident comes close on the heels of another similar case reported from NCERT Colony in South Delhi last month, in which two persons died and scores were hospitalized due to gastro-intestinal problems. 

Delhi BJP General Secretary Sikha Rai and South Delhi Mayor Sarita Chaudhary visited the Rajokri Camp to take stock of the situation. Shikha Rai pointed out that in a purity test conducted by the MCD in 2012, it was found that the drinking water that most Delhiites are getting at home has been found to be contaminated with sewage water and could be harmful to health. A shocking 81 out of 116 samples of such water - it translates to almost 70 percent supplied across the Capital by the DJB had failed a purity test conducted by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). The MCD study concluded that the tap water flowing through DJB pipelines could itself be the cause of various water- borne diseases. The water samples were collected by the civic authority's public health department laboratory in May 2012. And the bacteriological report submitted recently contains some alarming details.

In upmarket south Delhi, which houses the Capital's toniest addresses, impurities were detected in as many as 17 out of 28 water samples. The posh colonies getting a deadly cocktail in their taps included Green Park, Hauz Khas, South Extension, Safdarjung Enclave and Greater Kailash. The polluted sample score was a staggering 7 out of 10 in west Delhi's Karol Bagh zone, while 28 out of 32 samples were not up to the mark in Paharganj zone which covers the Walled City. The Civil Lines area of north Delhi, too, did not fare much better as 15 out of 26 samples failed to meet the purity norms. Delhi University and the region around it are located in this zone. But the residents of Narela in northwest Delhi appeared to be the worst- off because the water quality of all 10 samples tested there was found to be poor. In the central zone, which comprises areas such as Lajpat Nagar, New Friends Colony and Maharani Bagh. Here, two out of six samples couldn't pass muster.

The water becomes contaminated by a bacterium called E. coli (Escherichia coli). A high E. coli colony count can cause fever, nausea, vomiting, gastroenteritis and gastric intestinal inflammation. Last year the MCD had also pointed out leakages in water pipelines at around 1,000 spots which were a major source of contamination. The situation arises since sewage and water pipes are laid next to each other in Delhi. The water and sewage networks do not intertwine in countries in the West.

Delhi BJP Spokesperson Rajiv Babbar said that the DJB has six zonal laboratories for 11 districts of Delhi to process water samples collected from its distribution network across the city, except in NDMC and Delhi Cantonment areas. Apart from one central laboratory at Wazirabad, the others are at Okhla, Geeta Colony, Haiderpur, Nangloi and RWS (rural water supply) at Greater Kailash-I. The Union ministry of drinking water and sanitation had advised all states to set up at least one district-level laboratory as well as a sub-divisional drinking water quality testing laboratories for testing quality of drinking water sources periodically. The ministry has sent a dozen-odd letters, including follow-up reminders, to the DJB CEO on the issue. But it has been hanging fire for several years now.

Rajiv Babbar further said that ironically no tests are done for the presence of pesticides or metals on a daily basis. Continued consumption of water laced with heavy metals beyond permissible limits can lead to diarrhoea, ulcers, abdominal pain, indigestion, vomiting, and chest discomfort among other things. Delhi residents who depend on groundwater for their drinking water needs be warned. The latest data of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) shows that groundwater samples taken from observation wells in the national capital are getting contaminated because of their unhygienic catchments and untreated sewage, which is discharged in the open and into drains, and percolates into the groundwater.

Nitrate concentrations in the water samples have been recorded at a high 1,500 mg/l. The World Health Organization advice is that nitrate levels in drinking water should be below 50 mg/l, as "an effective preventive measure". The Bureau of Indian Standards states that the desirable limit is 45 mg/l, and there is "no relaxation" for this maximum value. The CGWB finding is a matter of serious concern for those unconnected to the pipeline network as they have little choice but to rely on private abstraction wells or tankers that supply untreated ground water.

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