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Not just some suburbs, water across city is harmful for you

mumbai Updated: Sep 20, 2011 01:29 IST
Kunal Purohit
Kunal Purohit
Hindustan Times
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On September 10, a Hindustan Times report disclosed how municipal water supplied to the areas between Bandra and Andheri in July was severely contaminated. The news just got worse. Now, contaminated water has been detected in each of the 27 reservoirs across the city in August, according to the latest civic reports accessed by Hindustan Times.

An average of 14 samples were collected from each of the reservoirs during the month. Of these, an average of four samples were found contaminated at every reservoir. The contaminated samples were collected right at the outlets of the reservoirs, where the water is supposed to be treated with chlorine for purification, before directly reaching your home through the supply lines.

In all, 120 samples out of 506 collected in August were found to be unfit for consumption. Of these, 27 had high levels of the Escherichia coli bacteria. Dr A R Pazare, head of medicine, KEM Hospital, said: “The source of E.coli is human and animal faeces. Hence, water infected with this bacteria is unfit for drinking. E.coli is commonly known to cause diarrhoea.” The bacteria can be killed if the water is boiled before drinking he added.

The water supplied by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is used for drinking, cooking and bathing in most households in the city. The BMC compiles reports every month on the contamination level at the reservoir outlets.

The areas worst affected by the contamination are parts of Borivli, Kandivli, Dahisar, Andheri(E), Andheri(W), Vile Parle(E), as well as large parts of Ghatkopar. The reports fail to mention the exact levels of E.coli.

However, a civic official told HT: “These samples contain varying levels. Although low, these E.coli levels are enough to make the water unfit for human consumption, whereas the 27 samples labeled as E.coli show high levels of the bacteria.”

Reacting to the series of reports on water contamination published in HT this month, the BMC asked National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to conduct an audit of three reservoirs – Pali Hill 1, Pali Hill 2 and Verawali 3. It also ordered that a complete overhaul of the sampling process be considered.
On Monday, additional municipal commissioner Rajiv Jalota said: “We need to see if the reservoirs had adequate dosages of chlorine on the days that contamination was reported. Also, the NEERI audit will help us get to the root of this problem."

Retired deputy municipal commissioner Prakash Sanglikar slammed the civic body. “The BMC needs to investigate why there are so many contaminated samples in the first place. Without investigating the cause, how can they be sure that it’s a problem with the sampling? Whatever the issue, it needs to be sorted out as soon as possible,” he said.