Question quality of water in the wake of jaundice outbreak in January
The decision of the Shimla Municipal Corporation to hike charges of water by 40 per cent from April has attracted opposition from political parties and residents,who faced second jaundice outbreak in two years.
Since January,when a large number of jaundice cases started pouring in at government hospitals and dispensaries,Shimla has officially recorded over 165 jaundice cases,even as the real figure is reported to be much higher since many people underwent for traditional healing methods.
The MCs proposal to hike water tariff comes at a time,when the quality of water supplied by the corporation is being questioned. Despite the recent jaundice outbreak that affected localities on the periphery of MC limits,including Vikas Nagar,Panthaghati,Kasumpti,BCS,New Shimla and Dev Nagar,no major action has been taken by the government to prevent recurrence of the disease.
In January-April 2007,a similar outbreak in the same areas had reported nearly 1000 jaundice cases.
Health department authorities have admitted that absence of proper sewerage disposal system and wearing out of old pipelines in many areas led to the repeated jaundice outbreak. Seepage from these pipes contaminated drinking water. If authorities know the reason,why are they compromising with health of people? There is no corrective action and now this hike in water tariff marks grave injustice to people, said Arvind Batish,president of Resident Welfare Association of Housing Board Colony in Vikas Nagar.
The colony houses nearly 2,000 people and reported almost 50 per cent of total jaundice cases in Shimla.
Meanwhile,BJP councillors led by Pradeep Kashyap and Manoj Kuthiala said they opposed the decision to hike the water tariff by 40 per cent. The mayor barred the media from covering the House proceedings on Tuesday so that the voice of the opposition could be crushed. Before the state Cabinet clears the proposed hike we will talk to the government to revoke the proposal, said Annadale councillor Kashyap.
The CPI has also criticised the move and Sanjay Chauhan,Shimla district secretary of the party,said: Forty per cent increase will be a big burden on the common man.