Where on one hand the official number of people affected by jaundice has increased to 900, the political parties on the other hand are shifting the onus on each other. The Himachal government and Shimla municipal corporation (SMC) are also doing the same. But the ground reality is that on an average about 60 people are falling sick due to the disease every day.
A special investigation team (SIT) of the Shimla Police has found some discrepancies on the part of the Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) department and the SMC. The team that visited the sewerage treatment plant in Dhalli, approximately 10km from the state capital, found some shortcomings in the lab like it not being fully equipped.
The Dhalli and Malayana sewerage treatment plants were being managed by outsourced companies, while it was the job of the SMC to keep a tab on its working. Since the treatment plants were not working properly, it contaminated Ashwani Khad, which is the water source for drinking water. Now, the IPH department will have to share the onus as it supplied the contaminated water to the town. “The IPH department tests the water at is lab before supplying it to the SMC. If the department supplied the contaminated water to public then action should be taken against them as the department should have stopped the supply if they found that the water was contaminated,” a government functionary said.
Meanwhile, the Himachal Pradesh high court had directed the state government to take steps to ensure clean supply of water to the Shimla town. But so far these orders have not been complied with full letter and spirit. The government was also directed to construct a road leading to the treatment plant, but the order has not been complied with. Besides, the authorities were asked to adopt the mechanism for sucking out the sludge from the treatment plant, but it still hangs in fire.
SMC commissioner Pankaj Rai said there were several obstacles in laying the sewerage line to ensure 100% connectivity. “People had been objecting in laying the sewerage line. Now we will take action as per the MC Act if sewerage line work is halted,” he said.
HC panel’s 2007 report
The high court committee, in its 2007 report, has mentioned that there is a water treatment plant on the Maili-Dhalli bye-pass that caters to the needs of the residents of Sanjauli and Bhatta Kufar. According to the report of the committee, sometimes un-treated sewage is polluted beyond the permissible limits and is discharged from this treatment plant and after 300 meters it meets the nullah at Dhobhi Ghat, which is a tributary of the Ashwani Khad.