After four days of cholera outbreak in various areas of Garha Locality, state local bodies minister and Jalandhar West MLA Bhagat Chunni Lal, 85, on Sunday visited the affected areas of the city for the first time to take stock of the situation. It was seemingly an attempt to check public criticism for minister's failure to visit the areas despite three persons having died due to diarrhoea recently.
The minister visited only one house in Guru Diwan Nagar that too from outside while the accompanying municipal corporation (MC) mayor Sunil Jyoti was trying to show the latter the disconnected "illegal" water supply connection. Jyoti asked Lal to visit second such plot where migrant labourers were living in insanitary conditions, but the minister preferred to return back to dispensary.
Within minutes Lal completed the exercise and reached the house of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kirpal Pali, who is also suffering from diarrhoea. He enquired about his health status.
A section of affected women also met Lal at Pali's residence and narrated their tale of woes in view of the spread of disease. Surjeet Kaur said: "Officials are visiting the affected areas but the situation remains the same. We are still getting unhygienic water."
The minister said such a situation emerged in the same locality in 1997 also, but this time it was worst.
On action being taken against illegal water supply connection holders, Lal evaded a direct reply and said the state government was coming up with a policy to check illegal water connections by getting installed water meters. "We will also give compensation to the next of kin in death cases," he said.
Meanwhile, the residents of Faggu Mohalla of Garha locality complained that they were still receiving contaminated water. Bharat Kumar, 68, said they were getting contaminated water for the past few days and were bringing clean water from a temple. "Foul smell and particles of soil are entering into the water which is difficult to drink," he said.
Balbir Kaur, 50, said: "During the morning and evening hours, we receive black muddy water. My son Mandeep is also suffering from stomach problem."
Deepak, 30, said his family was bringing water from relatives house due to supply of contaminated water.
MC commisisoner Vinay Bublani said the teams were working round the clock in the locality. "The residents can directly contact me at my mobile phone 98147-00098 and fault will be repaired immediately. We are detecting illegal water connections, which emerged as a major source of contaminating the potable water supply. Then cleanliness process of pipes will start so that there will not be any chance of contamination in future. Around 55 illegal water supply connections were disconnected by the civic body," he said.
132 new cases
On Sunday, the health staff examined around 235 patients of which 132 were found suffering from diarrhea, apparently due to consumption of contaminated water. Six patients were referred to civil hospital. The total numbers of diarrhoea patients have crossed 400 mark.