A bad bout of diarrhoea forced Manavi Sharma, 5, to cancel her sixth birthday party on Friday.
“For consecutive days, our piped water resembled sewerage. It was so contaminated that many people in our neighbourhood have fallen ill,” said Manavi's grandmother Urmil Sharma, who lives in Kailash Colony in south Delhi.
Since the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) water supply and sewage pipelines run parallel underground, residents suspect the contents of the two are getting mixed up.
“Most people use ROs (reverse osmosis) water purifiers, but the supply of late has been so filthy that even purifiers don't work,” said Sharma.
Other parts of the city are hit equally badly.
“We drink only boiled water even if it means boiling 25 litres of water each day,” said Rajni Vishen, a resident of Krishna Nagar in east Delhi.
Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) data shows that one in 10 water samples - 11.29 per cent or 1,768 from the 15,647 samples collected till July 1, 2010 - were found contaminated with disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
Patients have doubled in the paediatric department at Sir Ganga Ram hospital to over one week. “We treat 15 to 20 children suffering from diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and dehydration each day,” said Dr Krishan Chugh, senior consultant in the department of paediatrics at the hospital.
“Gastroenteritis cases have doubled from two to three a day last week to six to seven this week, with schoolchildren the worst hit,” said Dr Vivek Raj, head of department of gastroenterology at Max hospital. See graphic