Tanya Singh

Taps Turn Wellsprings of Diseases


Bangalore, Karnataka -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/23/2012 -- The death of two-year-old Chandan in JJ Nagar last week due to suspected water contamination, has sent warning signals across the city.

Valmiki K, an 80-year-old from Vishwanath Nagenahalli near Hebbal, woke up on March 22 to a stench. It took him a while to figure out that tap water was the source of the malodour.

He called BWSSB officials who later collected water samples from his house and disconnected the supply. But that was the last he heard from the board. "It's been more than 10 days since we received water and no action has been taken," Valmiki told TOI.

Complaints Galore
Admitting that BWSSB gets complaints of water contamination daily, chief engineer T Venkataraju said: "The minute we get such complaints, we stop supply to that area. We take samples and test them further." "If water has residual chlorine of 0.2 particles per million, it'll be fit for drinking. We check the possible causes for contamination. In most cases, it's caused when drinking and sewage water get mixed. Sometimes, when BBMP constructs tertiary drains, sewage connections will be hit and it could aggravate contamination," he explained.

Venkataraju denied Chandan's death was due to water contamination. "We inspected the surroundings of the boy's house. That house had no water connection. The death was not due to contamination," he asserted. But the boy's parents and neighbours are certain that Chandan's health got worse after he drank BWSSB's tap water.

Diseases up
Doctors, meanwhile, confirmed that water-borne diseases are on the rise in the city because of contaminated water. General physicians and internal medicine experts said they are getting 10 to 12 cases every day, mostly of children suffering from water-borne diseases.

Doctors said bacteria, virus and parasites travel in contaminated water. "They spread diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid, viral hepatitis and polio. Virus can also infest the intestine with worms, which are troublesome for young children and can cause dysentery. We get 4 to 5 cases on consumption of contaminated water daily," said Dr Gift Norman, head of the department, Community Medicine, Bangalore Baptist Hospital.

"Children, pregnant women and senior citizens are most vulnerable to contaminated water. Continuous consumption of such water can harm your kidney and abdomen. It can also be the root cause of many types of cancer," said Dr Sonali Ray, HoD, family medicine department, Narayana Hrudayalaya. "One should drink only clean and boiled water. We must also pay attention to personal as well as public hygiene and keep our surroundings clean," she added.

Flooded by calls
BWSSB said most complaints on water contamination are from low-lying areas such as Pillanna Garden, JJ Nagar, Jogu Palya and Jeevan Bima Nagar.

BWSSB officials confirmed that they are flooded with complaints of not only water shortage but also contamination. In February, they received 56 complaints and in January, it was 62. Since August 2010, the board received 1,015 water contamination cases from across the city.

The contamination is highest in East Bangalore where sanitary and water pipelines have broken since it was laid over 70 years ago.

RWH checks BEGIN from today
The deadline to install rainwater harvesting (RWH) system wasn't taken seriously by many Bangaloreans. The dates have been extended time and again for the past two years ever since the regulation was adopted by the BWSSB. The water board will now depute six divisional officers, 27 regional officers, 108 water inspectors and 309 meter readers to patrol areas from Tuesday to check whether the RWH system has been installed or not.

Borewell water a problem too
BWSSB taps are not the only source of contaminated water. Borewell water has also been the source of increasing health disorders this summer. Dr Kartik Nag, consultant and head of department of paediatrics, Manipal Hospital, said: "Every day, we see 10 to 12 children suffering from gastroenteritis or diarrhoea and vomiting. During this season, the groundwater table hits a low and there are chances of water being contaminated with chemicals and toxins. Children are most prone to water diseases."