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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Garha locals continue to guzzle contaminated water

Jatinder Kohli, Hindustan Times  JALANDHAR, October 16, 2013
First Published: 20:50 IST(16/10/2013) | Last Updated: 00:20 IST(17/10/2013)

The alarm bells have started ringing as five water samples taken by the health department from Garha locality, where three people had died and 500 fallen ill due to cholera in September, failed.

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The samples, taken on October 1, were sent to a state-level water-testing laboratory in Chandigarh and the report, released on Monday, stated that they were contaminated with bacteria.

The samples were taken from Government Primary School (girls), Gurdwara Baba Jiwan Singh, two houses of Idgah Mohalla, Faggu Mohalla and one more school of Garha locality.

The health department on Tuesday dodged off letters to the deputy commissioner and the municipal corporation commissioner in this regard.

Epidemiologist Dr Satish Sood confirmed that bacterial contamination was detected in the samples, making it unfit for human consumption.

Last month, 23 water samples collected from Guru Diwan Nagar, Tara Chand colony and other cholera-affected areas of Garha locality were found contaminated.

Sources said multiple faults in illegal water supply connections led to the outbreak of the disease in the area, where drinking water reportedly got mixed with the sewage water.

The then deputy commissioner (DC) Shruti Singh had ordered an inquiry into the outbreak and found that illegal water supply connections and insanitary conditions had led to the epidemic.

In its report, the committee comprising SDM-1 Iqbal Singh Sandhu, the Punjab Pollution Control Board executive engineer (XEN), and public health XEN blamed plot owners for the outbreak and failed to fix any responsibility of any department or official.

Recently, current DC Varun Roojam had also ordered a fresh probe into the incident after first inquiry failed to nail anyone and no punitive action was started against plot owners.

Roojam said: "I am not aware of the recent report, which stated that water of Garhi locality is contaminated. Necessary and immediate action will be taken in this regard."

When asked as to why the previous inquiry failed to fix responsibility of any department or official in the last month's outbreak, Roojam said he had written to the MC and the chief medical officer to give corrective and complete report within 10 days.

"Once I get the report, responsibilities will be fixed in the case," the DC added.

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