Recent laboratory tests of around 478 water samples drawn from various government schools in the district have revealed that thousands of government school students are provided with contaminated drinking water.
The health department had collected nearly 1512 water samples from schools across the district last month, out of which 478 samples have failed the purity test, making a farce of the government claims of providing 'best health care facilities' to the children.
Bhunga block tops the chart with 89 samples failed and 66 tests failed in Tanda block whereas 10 samples failed in Hoshiarpur,62 in Harta Badla, 49 in Mand Bhander, 30 in Hajipur, 28 in Paldi, 41, 44 and 59 tests failed in Budhabar, Possi and in Chakkowal block respectively.
District health officer Dr Surinder Malik said the deputy commissioner and the education department had been informed about the state of affairs and around 50,000 chlorine tablets had been distributed to the schools.
District education officer (secondary) Sukhwinder Kaur said, "I have instructed the schools not to use contaminated water but they have no alternative. The schools which lack submersible pumps have been asked to install them whenever they get funds," said Kaur.
"We also have sent a proposal to the Sarv Shiksha Abhayan authorities to get Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems installed in all schools," she said. However, the water purifiers, provided to the schools a few years back, are lying unused due to lack of maintenance and negligence of the school authorities.
The company that installed the purifiers demanded Rs 1000 per annum for its maintenance in each school. Neither the school authorities nor the village health and sanitation committees ever tried to fix the purifiers when they had sufficient funds with them.
The recent water tests had been conducted to analyse the bacterial impurities only and the results do not mention the hardness of water. Water samples from schools were never tested to measure its chemical fitness.
District epidemiologist Dr Manish said recently water and sanitation department have provided testing kits to all the schools to ascertain water purity but several school heads are unaware of its usage.
"We were supplied the kits by our department but we can't operate them. Hence the kits are lying unused," said a principal.