Water in some of Mumbai’s most expensive neighbourhoods, such as Lokhandwala Complex, Bandra, Santacruz and Andheri, is highly contaminated, according to a survey conducted by students of RD National College, Bandra.
As part of their project, the students collected and tested 900 samples of potable water from their own housing societies; 59 of the samples were contaminated.
While the permitted level of coliform, bacteria usually found in sewage and which can cause severe gastric infections, is 10 coli/100 ml, these areas had contamination levels as high as 1,900 coli/100 ml.
“With such a high level of contamination, the water is not safe to drink even after filtering,” said professor Mona Kejariwal. “Students were asked to collect water directly from the civic tap and not from their homes. This was done to avoid the bacteria present in water tanks. In Mumbai, water and sewage pipelines run parallel to each other and any sort of leak can lead to contamination.”
The college first tested all the samples in its own laboratory and then sent the contaminated ones to an independent laboratory to confirm the findings. “We will once again take samples from areas where we found the contaminated water and test them. We will present these findings to the civic body through elected representatives,” said principal Dinesh Panjwani.
“We will look at the data and have a one-on-one with the college on it. We want more people to get involved in conservation of water and prevention of contamination,” said Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner.
The project, which is part of the curriculum, involved more than 2,500 students across junior and degree colleges. The project also includes spreading awareness for water and energy conservation. The effort has been shortlisted for the National Urban Water Awards instituted by the Central Ministry of Urban Development. A Central Government committee visited the college for fieldwork assessment on Tuesday.
Students had to collect the water and electricity bills of their housing societies and survey residents’ awareness levels. “Initially, people were reluctant to share information. While many were aware about ways to conserve water, few did anything about it,” said Varkha Satwani, a second-year arts student.