Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal questions credibility of samples collected for report on water quality
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday lashed out at the Union government, questioning the credibility of the samples collected for a Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) report on the quality of water supplied in the city, even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued to attack the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government over the body’s findings.
Quoting several media reports that suggested inconsistencies in the collection of samples, Kejriwal tweeted to Union consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan: “You claimed that your officials collected samples from certain residences, the individuals residing there said otherwise. They said that they are satisfied with the quality of water in their residence. How could you lie? How can a Union minister be so misleading?”
A tussle over the quality of tap water in Delhi started on November 16, when Paswan shared the findings of a study conducted by BIS, which suggested that Delhi’s tap water was the worst among major Indian cities and not fit for drinking without further purification. The study stated that Delhi, along with Kolkata and Chennai, failed in almost 10 out of 11 quality parameters of drinking water.
Kejriwal rejected the finding and, on Monday, challenged Paswan in a press briefing to share the addresses of the places from which BIS collected samples. Paswan, in a tweet on Tuesday, shared the details of all 11 places from where the samples were collected.
HT on Wednesday reached out to the households. Of the 11 locations, two were from the Paswan’s official residence in Janpath and Krishi Bhavan – both in Lutyens’ Delhi, where the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) supplies water and not the Delhi government’s Jal Board.
No one was available at three other locations.
Of the six remaining locations, people living at five said that the water samples were collected from their residence around three months ago. Three of them added that they had registered complaints with the Delhi Jal Board for bad water quality.
“We were getting extremely bad quality of supply water. There was visible froth and always a bad odour. Today, our MLA [Sanjeev Jha of the Aam Aadmi Party] reached out to me and assured me that the water problem would be resolved at the earliest,” said one of the respondents who did not wish to be identified fearing pressure from authorities.
However, one of the respondents, who lives in Burari, said that no sample collected from his house. “It was not ethical on part of anyone to have publically shared my contact details. Now the whole day I was tracked by the media. I want action against whosoever has shared my contact details,” said Deepak Roy.
Jha, meanwhile, went on a Twitter offensive on Wednesday. In one case, he shared a video clip from one of the households on the sampling list, alleging that the nameplate outside the house suggested that the residents were associated with Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party. This was one of the cases in which the respondent could not be contacted by HT.
Kejriwal also reiterated the allegation. “It hurts to see such misuse of power. It was wrong on the union minister’s part to have collected samples from residence of his own party workers and use that to spread fear among residents of Delhi. Such act is unbecoming on part of someone on a constitutional post,” he said.
Paswan could not be contacted for a comment despite repeated attempts.
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan dismissed Kejriwal’s comments. “BIS is a reputed organisation and why would they be selective in terms of sampling. They are experts in the field and his [Kejriwal’s] comments are an insult to their expertise,” he said outside Parliament.
“Arvind Kejriwal is the chairperson of the Delhi Jal Board. It is for his negligence that millions of children in Delhi are suffering in hospitals after drinking polluted water… For fault in pipelines polluted water reach residences in Delhi. Being a doctor, I know how dangerous that can be. Kejriwal is being ignorant of that and indulging in dirty politics,” he later said on Twitter.
Experts, however, said that the Central and the state governments should stop indulging in the blame-game.
“Water that comes out of treatment plants are good enough. The problem usually happens in the pipeline system during distribution. The problem increases manifold due to instances of illegal leakages too,” said Jyoti Sharma, a researcher who works with an NGO on the area of access to clean water in Delhi-NCR.
AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh demanded the resignation of Paswan for misleading the people of Delhi for the “fraudulent” report.