It took two deaths within 72 hours to shake the agencies out of their slumber. But they have woken up only to play the blame game.
Meanwhile, people in south Delhi’s NCERT Colony continue to suffer. Between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, 40 people had to be taken to the hospital as their condition had deteriorated due to consumption of contaminated water.
The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) — responsible for distributing water in the NCERT Colony — on Wednesday blamed the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) for the fiasco.
“There is no problem in our distribution network. There was a blocked DJB sewer line. The overflowing sewage got mixed with the main line and contaminated the water. Our workers had cleaned the underground reservoir just 15 days ago,” said a senior CPWD official.
However, when an HT team visited the spot and took a look at the underground reservoir, it did not give the look of having been cleaned in years. There were cobwebs around the pipe, snails were seen crawling on it and insects breeding in the water.
News reports of water contamination, however, have made the CPWD set up a two-member inquiry committee to look into the incident. “The committee will submit its report in three days,” said the official. A CPWD team also collected water samples from the site for testing.
Debashree Mukherjee, DJB CEO, rebutted CPWD’s claim: “Our responsibility stops at the entry point of the bulk supply. We carry out water sampling in such colonies if needed, but overall, it is the responsibility of the agency which receives the bulk supply from us.”
Meanwhile, at the NCERT colony the mood remained sombre.
After Rahul Singh, a hotel management student, was admitted to the Safdarjung Hospital on Sunday, his parents too have fallen sick and are being treated at Modi Hospital.
Anukriti Solomon, who is visiting her uncle, also fell prey to severe diarrhoea. “I kept going to the washroom every 30 minutes. We are being provided with mineral water now, but we had been drinking that yellow dirty water for the past few days,” said Solomon.
Each house in the colony has been provided a 20-litre bottle of mineral water and DJB tankers have been supplying water for daily use. The work on the affected pipeline and cleaning of the reservoir has begun. The residents have been promised normal water supply within 2 to 3 days.
On Sunday, four-year-old Sanjana died after drinking contaminated water. Her two-year-old brother Ayaan is still at Safdarjung Hospital. “My son has received five bottles of glucose till now. The doctors are not telling us anything. I won’t be able to bear the loss of another child,” said Sanjana’s mother Suman Verma.