Three migrant labourers allegedly died after consuming contaminated water and nearly 34 labourers, including women, were found suffering from diarrhoea at the new grain market in Moga on Saturday while authorities termed the mixing of potable water with sewage as the main reason behind the spread of the epidemic.
The deceased have been identified as Nakul Moti (34), Joginder (42) and Kheta Singh (52), all residents of Bihar.
More than 30 suspected patients of diarrhoea were admitted to Dr Mathura Dass civil hospital by the local administration.
The people alleged that the Moga Municipal Corporation (MMC) had failed to act on time to check contamination of drinking water in ward numbers 11 to 13, despite complaints lodged in this regard fifteen days ago.
Hundreds of agitated labourers gathered at the main gate of the new grain market and staged a protest against the district administration as well as officials of the MMC. They alleged that the administration was not paying attention to the basic problems faced by the mandi’s labourers.
Parminder Singh Gill, Moga deputy commissioner, has confirmed that some patients were in a serious condition and the health department was taking all steps to mitigate the issue.
According to health department sources, a few suspected patients were referred to Guru Gobind Singh Medical Hospital, Faridkot, and Dayanand Medical Collage and Hospital, Ludhiana.
Senior health officials said the health department had taken samples from the waterworks taps and sent it to Chandigarh for further examination. However, the authorities cleared that potable water getting mixed with sewage was the reason behind the spread of the infection.
DC Gill said the district health officer and sanitary officer of the Moga municipal corporation visited the grain market. “They reported that it wasn’t clear that all patients were suffering from diarrhoea. The health department has provided medicines to migrant labourers free of cost. Everything is under control,” said the DC.
Chlorinated water is being provided to the grain markets even as the municipal corporation has been told to deploy a sanitary inspector in the area.
“We have stopped the water supply and officials concerned are checking the water supply pipes to look out for contamination. A team of doctors led by the sub divisional magistrate and the district health officer is attending to patients round the clock at the civil hospital. We are providing free medicine and pure drinking water to the diarrhoea patients,” he said.
Jathedar Tota Singh, Punjab agriculture minister who visited the new grain market, said the administration had sent samples of the water to Chandigarh for testing and the report confirmed the water was contaminated. “We have formed teams that will go door-to-door for vaccination. Safai sewaks have also been deputed in strength at the locality,” he added.