Coffers empty: MC fails to prevent outbreak of waterborne diseases

  • Arjun Sharma, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: May 25, 2014 19:08 IST

Lack of funds has slowed down work on installing sewerage pipelines in the city and repair of existing sewerage system, which in turn has led to an increase in waterborne diseases, such as diarrhoea, due to impure drinking water.

The issue came to the fore again on May 18, when five-yearold Prince died after suffering from diarrhoea for a couple days in Prem Vihar, where residents claimed they were being supplied contaminated water, after water pipelines were damaged in the process of laying sewerage pipes. It was only after the child’s death and several diarrhoea cases that the MC took steps to fix the water pipelines.

A project under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to cover the entire city with a new sewerage network would be completed by the March-end next year, according to the municipal corporation (MC). However, the MC is sitting on its hands as far as recovering the pending water and sewerage tax is concer ned. These funds could have been used by the MC to lay the sewer pipes on its own, besides carrying out maintenance works.

According to sources, at least Rs 119 crore is yet to be recovered as water and sewerage tax from residents. Joint commissioner AS Sekhon said a fifth of the city’s area still did not have proper sewerage.

“Damaged pipelines that have not been repaired often lead to contamination of the water supply, giving rise to various diseases like diarrhoea and gastroenteritis,” said Sekhon. There are 161,944 residential and 14,234 commercial sewerage connections in the city. The MC has reduced the budget outlay on laying sewerage lines from Rs 25 crore in FY 2013-14 to Rs 20 crore in 2014-15.

Last October, the civic body set up a high-level team headed by additional commissioner Kamlesh Bansal to launch a drive to recover unpaid water and sewerage taxes, but it failed miserably. The cur rent additional commissioner, Sumeet Jarangal, claimed the cor poration was earning nearly Rs 30 crore in water and sewerage taxes every year.

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