Despite water samples collected from Prakash Nagar, Jawaddi, and Sihora village being found unsafe for consumption, the municipal corporation (MC) continues to hold residents responsible for outbreak of diseases.
After cases of diarrhoea and gastroenteritis were reported in the areas, the district health department collected 15 water samples from Prakash Nagar, all of which on Monday were found unfit for human consumption, while eight of 12 samples from Sihora village were found unsafe.
But MC commissioner Pradeep Kumar Agarwal said, “The health department collected water samples in absence of any MC official or employee. Besides they just check the status of chlorine in water not the potability. Not many people use chlorine tablets at home to purify water.”
While blaming residents for the outbreak, Agarwal said residents created illegal water connections and installed ‘tullu’ pumps just to get more water. Therefore, several illegal and faulty water connections were severed. He said when they visited the areas, they found condition of the houses in ‘vehras’ extremely insanitary, and drinking water pipes installed next to toilet pipes.
However, he said MC was looking into how the water could be purified as per the health department directions.
“We will provide chlorinated water as per the guidelines of the health department. MC employees will be trained in water purification process by health department officials,” he added.
On the other hand, civil surgeon Dr Subhash Batta said the water samples were collected with care and were tested by the laboratories of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).
He said presence of cholera in stool samples collected from the affected areas was serious, as the bacteria caused early dehydration, serious complications and even death if left untreated.
“The health department could only provide awareness, which was done from time to time, besides holding camps to provide medical facilities as and when needed,” Dr Batta, while emphasising on the need for MC to ensure safe drinking water.
When contacted, deputy commissioner Rajat Agarwal said, “Three reasons for the outbreak were apparent during a visit to the affected areas. These were illegal water connections, installation of ‘tullu’ pumps to get more water at homes and unhygienic surroundings. But, we can’t only blame residents for these things, as departments concerned also need to be proactive.”
He added, “I have guided the MC to identify the leakage points and keep a check on illegal connections, and also asked the health department to spread more awareness in the high-risk areas well before time.”
He said NGOs and other social organisations would be involved to find a strategic solution to this problem.