Threat of water contamination looms large over south Mumbai | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Threat of water contamination looms large over south Mumbai

mumbai Updated: Jun 16, 2012 02:18 IST
Poorvi Kulkarni

Clogged drains will cause flooding and make commute a misery in the monsoon, but more critically, they are likely to contaminate your drinking water.

Data obtained from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) shows that 105 complaints of contaminated water have been lodged in April and May.

This amounts to an alarming 33% of the complaints that were lodged during the monsoon months of June to September last year. As contamination is known to peak in the monsoon, the forecast for the coming three months is grim.

Between June and September 2011, the BMC helpline received 303 complaints related to water contamination.

Over the past one year, HT has been consistently reporting on the high levels of contamination in the city’s drinking water, and its consequences.

As per the data, water contamination is high on the island city, with the C, D and E wards, which include Bhuleshwar, Dhobi Talao, Khetwadi, Walkeshwar, Mazagaon, Kamathipura and Byculla, being the worst affected. Twenty-two of the 105 complaints in April and May have come from the D-ward.

Officials admit that contamination cases rise during the monsoon and that the underlying cause is choked drains. “The problem occurs with underground pipelines as contaminated groundwater and sewage water seep into these pipes,” said Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner (projects).

However, the BMC claims it has sufficient measures in place if there is a crisis. “We are prepared to take emergency action such as sending mobile chlorinator vans if contamination levels are high,” Jalota said.

The BMC annually tests water samples from all administrative wards, but during the monsoon, it plans to scale up the testing of samples, depending on the number of complaints. Officials also promise to reduce the reaction time between a complaint being lodged and addressed.

“The problem persists in these areas [in the island city] because of old water connections. The old pipelines need to be replaced. Citizens too are to blame as they throw garbage into drains and clog them,” said Jalota.

Activists believe the BMC should chalk out a plan to revamp the water supply network. “Ninety percent of the pipelines run through nullahs and drains. Systematic replacement of such connections is necessary,” said Rajkumar Sharma, coordinator, Action for Good Governance and Networking in India. “There also needs to be a check on the installation of illegal water lines and booster pumps that damage the existing connections.”