Clean water is luxury item for the poor

26 pc people in slums drink contaminated water, finds survey

Some 26 per cent Delhi’s slums residents drink contaminated water, says a survey conducted by civil rights group Save the Children ahead of the World Water Day on Thursday.

A man helps a boy take bath near a leaking pipe. A survey conducted by an NGO has found that 26 per cent of Delhi’s slum dwellers drink contaminated water. AP Photo

The survey was conducted across 60 slums in the six districts of Delhi by attaining water samples from 2,50,000 residents. Different drinking water outlets, including Delhi Jal Board pipelines, water tankers, submersible pumps and hand pumps, were tested for biological contamination.

The tests were conducted using a standard water testing technique based on H2S strips which detects bacteria such as salmonella and citrobacter.

In south Delhi, 39 per cent of tested drinking water samples showed contamination.
Almost 80 per cent in Okhla were found to be contaminated. In Sanjay colony, a 20-year-old slum which is home to at least 3,500 families, showed positive results for biological contamination (human and animal faeces as contaminants).

In east Delhi, 32 per cent showed contamination, whereas in north and west Delhi, the rate was recorded at 12.3 per cent and 48 per cent in north-west Delhi.
Though tests were confined largely to slums, a few water sources were randomly tested in planned localities as well.

However, experts do not agree that only 26 per cent of drinking water in Delhi slums is contaminated. “I am surprised that the survey puts the contamination level at 26 per cent when it stands at 100 per cent. Water in all metros, whether slums or posh areas, is contaminated. Nobody is worried about the issue. We are encouraging the water industry rather than cleaning up our act,” said Devendra Sharma, a Delhi-based environmentalist.

‘No comment’

A DJB official declined to comment on the issue, saying: “NGOs conduct surveys and we prefer not to comment on them because we are never sure under what circumstances have the tests been conducted.”

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