Diarrhoea outbreak: Magisterial inquiry blames water supply, sewerage board staff

  • Vivek Gupta, Hindustan Times, Patiala
  • Updated: Jul 13, 2016 15:36 IST
Diarrhoea patients admitted at the civil hospital in Samana. (HT File Photo)

The magisterial probe into the Samana diarrhoea outbreak pinned the blame on the carelessness of the water supply and sewerage board’s staff posted in the area.

Last month’s emergency reportedly claimed eight lives and left over 400 with suffering from diarrhoea.

Deputy commissioner Ramvir Singh told HT that the probe findings would be sent to the secretary in-charge of the sewerage board with the recommendation for departmental action against the supervisory staff.

The probe that was conducted by additional deputy commissioner (development) KS Raj revealed that as more than 50% samples failed to meet drinking water specifications, it clearly indicated that water supply lines were not regularly monitored by the board staff despite their responsibility for operation and maintenance of the government water supply.

Besides carelessness of the officials, the report blamed the unplanned urban development in the area, which is otherwise represented by cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra.

As per the report, one of the major reasons behind this outbreak was the fact that the affected households were having water connection lines just one feet over the open surface drain that led to bacterial contamination of the government supply.

The water connections were placed at such low level due to lack of pressure, which is the result of overdependence of tubewells and non-availability of overhead reservoirs.

The report recorded the statement of one patient Sakuntla of affected Dobian Mohalla whose testimony before the probe committee revealed that prior to her illness, she was using government water supply.

In contrast, no illness was reported from her adjoining house since its members had the luxury of sourcing water from submersible pumps and using it after cleansing through the RO system.

“People from affluent background could afford alternate water supply but the poor section was left with no other option,” observed the report.

Unauthorised connections also responsible

The report also blamed illegal water supply sourced from the main water lines behind water contamination. It mentioned that the action initiated by the water supply and sewerage board staff after diarrhoea outbreak led to the disconnection of 121 such connections.

“This is clear that the operation and maintenance of the water supply were not done in a proper way in past,” the report stated.

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