Water contamination deaths: First alarm was two months ago,no one responded

For two months,residents of NCERT Colony kept approaching authorities with complaints of contaminated water,but no action was taken. The authorities took notice only after two residents died and 70 fell ill.

Written by Shalini Narayan | New Delhi | Published: June 27, 2013 3:04 am

For two months,residents of NCERT Colony kept approaching authorities with complaints of contaminated water,but no action was taken. The authorities took notice only after two residents died and 70 fell ill.

On Sunday,four-year-old Sanjana was declared dead at Safdarjung Hospital. Since then,several residents have fallen ill. The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) are,meanwhile,blaming each other for the contaminated water.

Residents claimed that the problem of contaminated water from the underground reservoir surfaced two months ago. Despite writing to the CPWD and the DJB and informing NCERT authorities,nothing was done to rectify the problem,they said.

According to residents,reports of the two deaths made authorities send workers to clean the tanks and lay new pipes. When the pipes were being replaced,residents claimed they saw insects,lizards and muddy water in the old pipes.

NCERT spokesperson Hemant Kumar said,“CPWD is entrusted with the job of distribution of water,cleaning and maintenance of pipelines within this residential complex and they have failed to do their job.”

Senior CPWD officials said a committee had been set up to probe the incident and a report would be submitted within two days. The CPWD has taken samples from the underground reservoir to which the DJB supplies water and also from the distribution tank that supplies water to the housing block.

“Prima facie,it seems that a DJB sewer line on the main road was clogged. The possible backflow could have led to contamination of water. We will know more once the samples are tested and the inquiry report is in,” a senior CPWD official said.

Doctors at the hospital,where residents were admitted and administered treatment,declined comment.

A K Khuddi,administrative officer of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration which is on the NCERT campus,sent a complaint to the DJB on June 11: “For the past one month,yellow water is being supplied in the campus because of which officials and employees are falling ill.”

On Tuesday,the administration wrote to the DJB: “Subsequent to the June 11 letter,the DJB sent two officials to check the water on June 14. They found the water contaminated… there has been no development on the supply of clean water… Two persons residing on the campus have died and several others are admitted across hospitals. This has become a life-threatening situation.”

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