MCD report pins DJB for not ensuring clean supply

At least 81 out of 116 water samples collected by MCD contain physical impurities

A recent survey by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi created ripples in the city with revelations that a large portion of Delhi’s water is not fit for drinking.

Even though the outskirts fare worse than the rest of the city, the so-called posh areas also face health risk due to undrinkable water.

In the survey, at least 81 out of 116 samples were collected from the sites where the Delhi Jal Board delivers water. The samples were found to contain physical impurities. This translates into 70 per cent of the collected samples.

In south Delhi, 17 of 28 samples were impure, seven of 10 in west Delhi’s Karol Bagh zone, and 28 of 32 samples were found contaminated in Paharganj zone. Narela in north-west Delhi, a predominantly ‘rural’ area of the city, had all 10 out of 10 water samples unfit for consumption.

“We conducted three surveys in the last few years and found pollutants of all types in Delhi’s water, including physical, chemical and bacteriological impurities. At least 20 per cent of the samples had enterobacterial group of bacteria, which is responsible for causing diseases such as jaundice, diarrhoea and typhoid,” said Dr V K Monga, former chairperson of MCD health committee. He is currently the president of Society for Advocacy and Promotion of Public Health.

DJB supplies 60 per cent of water in Delhi, and the rest is acquired through tankers or groundwater sources. In Narela, people use handpumps for their daily needs.

Dr Monga, under whose authority the survey was conducted, said water-borne diseases are rising in Delhi. “We found high incidence of chemical contamination,” he added.

Chemical pollution is defined as excess of nitrogen and ammonia and lack of chlorine in water.

In the country, 10 bacteria per 100 ml of water is considered unsafe, while in European countries it is five bacteria per 100 ml. “Despite such a low standard, nearly 20 per cent of water had over 10 bacteria per 100 ml,” said Dr Monga.

The reason for such a situation is the use of old and corroded water pipes. Some public water pipes also run parallel to sewer lines in the Capital. So whenever there is a leakage or a pipe breaks due to corrosion, sewer water enters into drinking water pipes.

“We gave a list of 1,000 such pipelines that needed to be repaired or replaced. But DJB took care of only 50 pipes in the last one year,” said Dr Monga.

Government slams report

The release of the report drew flak from the state government, which controls the DJB. It issued a notice claiming that two to three per cent of DJB’s water was contaminated, which was within the World Health Organisation’s norms.

DJB spokesperson Sanjam Cheema raised doubts about the MCD report. She said DJB takes adequate steps to ensure water purity. “We take 400 random samples from different areas in the city daily. We have our own mechanism to ensure that people get pure water,” said Cheema.

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