The health department has found all eight samples collected from the diarrhoea-affected areas in Samana subdivision to be contaminated. Patiala civil surgeon Rajiv Bhalla said the state public health laboratory confirmed the water contamination on Monday afternoon.
Patiala deputy commissioner (DC) Ramvir Singh said the development pointed towards mixing of water being supplied to the affected areas with sewage.
“Action will be taken against erring officials (who failed to prevent contamination). An inquiry team comprising health officials will soon submit a report, which will be forwarded to the state government for appropriate action,” said the DC.
The DC said the situation was now under control as the number of patients has come down in the past two days. “We have already snapped direct water supply to affected areas, and it will be restored after the administration is convinced that the water being supplied is potable,” he said.
Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board executive engineer Subhash Chander said human error leading to contamination cannot be ruled out. “The department sub-divisional officer (SDO) has already been transferred on directions of senior officials. All possible precautions are being taken to prevent any further contamination,” he said.
The board official said all connections illegally tapped into the main water line have also been snapped.
As many as seven people, including two children, have died due to suspected diarrhoea, and 300 patients have undergone treatment for the disease over the last week in Samana civil hospital, making it one of the worst epidemics in Patiala region in recent times. The affected areas include densely populated Tibbi Mohalla, Sarai Patti, Gharam Patti and Tej Colony.
The civil surgeon said reports on blood and stool samples collected from patients are expected to come in by Tuesday.
The diarrhoea outbreak has also led to a political slugfest as the area is represented by senior cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra. His political opponents, including Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, have already sought his resignation on moral grounds.