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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Dec 2014

Even deaths fail to stir Jal Board into action

Nivedita Khandekar and Nishtha, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 25, 2013
First Published: 01:03 IST(25/8/2013) | Last Updated: 01:05 IST(25/8/2013)

Two months ago, on June 24, two persons, including a child, had died and several others hospitalised after consuming contaminated water at the NCERT Colony in south Delhi. On July 10, one person had died and more than three-dozen were taken ill at Rajokri in southwest Delhi, for the same reason.

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The Delhi Jal Board (DJB), however, has neither taken any action against any staff members nor taken up any policy decision to extend water quality surveillance to colonies where it provides water in bulk.

DJB provides water - through tankers and borewells - at Rajokri, which does not get water from any of the water treatment plants. At the NCERT Colony, DJB supplies water in bulk and the distribution and its network maintenance inside that colony is taken care of by the Central Public Works Department.

When the unfortunate deaths occurred in June, the DJB had clearly washed its hands off the incident. For Rajokri, it had said, it will get water samples tested to find out if there was contamination. Sources within the DJB told HT, the water utility has not taken any action whatsoever against any of its staff, be it engineers or laboratory technicians.

In view of the current arrangement where DJB does not interfere into distribution where it supplies water in bulk and thus, does not carry out water quality checks, the sources said: "The DJB has not even considered any change in policy to extend water quality surveillance to such colonies."

Mails, text messages and phone calls to DJB's consultant (PR) and the chief executive officer by HT have received no response for the past three days. 

The CPWD, however, has taken punitive measures against the officials. Said a senior CPWD officer, "We have issued a charge sheet against one junior engineer and one assistant engineer. Both of them have been transferred too."

As per Central Vigilance Commission guidelines, an independent officer will conduct an inquiry against these two engineers.

Meanwhile, the families of the victims from NCERT Colony and Rajokri continue to mourn the loss of their dear ones. Four-year-old Sanjana's family is still recovering from the loss. But it is on Hari Kishen's (42) family that his death has taken a heavy toll. He was the only earning hand in the family.

"So, after his death, his family returned to their native place," said Manoj Kumar, Hari Kishen's neighbour.At the Rajokri Pahadi BSF Camp, family of the deceased Chhote Lal has not received any compensation.

Balveer Sharma, a neighbour, said: "I am getting all the necessary documents ready and we will soon approach the court. Someone has died due to government's negligence and we need justice."


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