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Sunday, Dec 08, 2019

Delhi Jal board says ‘serious procedural lapses’ in BIS water testing

Delhi Jal Board (DJB) vice-chairperson Dinesh Mohaniya said the DJB now on its own was testing water quality in each of the 11 households from where the Centre claimed the BIS had collected samples.

delhi Updated: Nov 22, 2019 05:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The tussle between the Delhi government and the Centre over quality of water supplied in Delhi intensified on Thursday
The tussle between the Delhi government and the Centre over quality of water supplied in Delhi intensified on Thursday(Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times)
         

The tussle between the Delhi government and the Centre over quality of water supplied in Delhi intensified on Thursday, with Delhi Jal Board (DJB) vice-chairperson Dinesh Mohaniya alleging “serious procedural lapses” in findings of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

Mohaniya said the DJB now on its own was testing water quality in each of the 11 households from where the Centre claimed the BIS had collected samples. Questioning the BIS exercise, which assesses the quality and standardisation of other products, he said, “We received the BIS report on Delhi’s water quality today. The report does not mention the permissible limit or range of water quality. It also does not mention the details of the findings of the individual samples that were mentioned in the report. No standard procedures were followed in the process.”

The DJB vice-chairperson, who is also Aam Aadmi Party’s MLA from Sangam Vihar, said the Delhi government’s findings from the 11 households will be shared publicly. He reiterated that the water utility will collect at least 500 water samples from each of the 272 wards in the city. He added that in 2015, the Delhi government had identified 2,300 areas where water supply required to be augmented. Out of this, work remains in 170 areas.

“Biological treatment, which is part of DJB’s testing process, takes 48 hours. The results are awaited. No one should panic about Delhi’s water quality. Not only does the DJB collect lakhs of samples every year, but the Delhi government also conducts third party tests through Central government’s NEERI. Their findings validate the DJB tests too. In fact, samples taken by the BJP-ruled MCDs passed quality tests,” Mohaniya said.

A tussle over the quality of tap water in Delhi started on November 16, when Union consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas 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 did not fit for drinking without further purification.

Kejriwal, however, rejected the finding and on Monday, challenged Paswan in a press briefing to share the addresses of the places from which BIS collected the samples. Paswan, on Tuesday, shared details of 11 places from where samples were collected.

Addressing a press briefing on Thursday, Mohaniya alleged that the BIS samples were “completely manipulated”. “In one of the 11 addresses, the house owner turned out to be the vice president of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), which is headed by Paswan himself. Another sample was taken from one Ilyasi’s house, and he testified that LJP workers, not BIS officials, procured the sample. Why water samples were collected only from people associated with one party? Why LJP workers, not BIS officials collected the samples?” he asked.

Paswan countered the government’s claim by saying everyone in Delhi has a right to clean piped water. “So, does it mean that LJP leaders living in Delhi do not have a right to clean water? Is potable water only the right of AAP leaders? All media reports are showing that people of Delhi are grappling with polluted water,” the Union minister said in a tweet.

HT on Wednesday had reached out to all the 11 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 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 samples were collected around three months ago.