Providing safe drinking water is a farfetched dream in Khanpora area of Kashmir.
Nearly 15,000 villagers of Khanpora area in north Kashmir's Baramulla district were supplied drinking water containing "extremely high levels of nitrates, phosphates and iron" for over a year - courtesy the public health and engineering department.
The problem came to the fore when villagers started complaining of digestive and intestine problems. Health experts say that high levels of nitrate in drinking water can lead to severe health problems.
Succumbing to public outcry, the PHE department conducted a test of the water being supplied to the villagers and it was found that water samples contained "extremely high levels of nitrates, phosphates and iron".
"Actually the iron content in the water has been found above limits and we are looking into the issue. We have asked people to stop consuming water and are supplying them potable water through tankers," said Baramulla PHE executive engineer Zahoor Ahmad.
Khanpora water supply scheme was devised by PHE department some two years ago after installing a huge tube well on the banks of the Jehlum river for supplying drinking water to about 3,000 families.
Villagers claimed that soon after water was released to the area people started complaining of digestive and intestine problems which off-late increased alarmingly. But the PHE officials maintain that the contamination has happened lately.
The PHE engineer said: "The water has shown fluctuating level of iron which misled us in the past."
The officials are now mulling to install a sophisticated filtration plant to filter the water before supplying. "Although an aerator was already in place to remove excess iron from water, but that works upto a limit. It will take us three months to construct an iron filtration plant," he said.