Srinagar: Residents from localities and communities of Srinagar and adjoining areas say that they are irked by the drinking water supply provided by the Public Health Engineering department. Locals allege that the water highly contaminated and that no advisory had been issued by the department to people.
In many areas, the condition is extremely bad. But the officials maintain, that all the water treatment plants are in good condition.
Hopeless that Public Health Engineering (PHE) would do anything, Mansoor Raja, a resident from Zakura posted a picture of the drinking water on the social networking site Facebook. He had posted a picture of the water in a glass captioning it as, “Not Guava juice. (this is) drinking water supply at Zakura, Srinagar, pure criminal.”
Speaking to Free Press Kashmir, he said, “We did not ever receive an advisory from the PHE. I personally never lodged a complaint as it has been a norm here. The water supply keeps on getting ridiculously dirty from time to time.”
The officials on the other hand say, “Whosoever has a problem with drinking water can come to us or call us to their place. We take immediate action and send our team to the place.”
But if one speaks to the residents of Batamaloo, they say that it is not the case, and that they have been unknowingly drinking water from the sewage pipes. “We have been sick for months now. One day, I felt that the water was stinky. I got the water tanks purified. After some days, the same thing happened. I checked the tanks and it literally had water from the drains. It explained why we were falling ill every now and then. The water continues to be this way,” they said.
This is not just the case with Srinagar, Ganderbal is facing a similar problem.
Speaking to Free Press Kashmir, Nazir Ahmad Dar, Executive Engineer Rural Water Supply, Ganderbal said, “We run tests on the water supply plants on a daily basis. We do not have any such report that suggests the water is contaminated. In Zakura, the water is supplied from Alashteng plant which also supplies water to around 5 lakh people from the city areas including LalBazar, Buchpora and Gulab Bagh. Had there been any problem with the plant, other areas would also have received the same water.”
“24*7, we check the water plants. Chlorination, adding of bleaching powder to the water is done round the clock as per the requirement. If the water is muddy, we add alum to it. Alasteng plant, Hadora plant, 5 Plants in Ganderbal’s Bihama area etc. There is nothing wrong with the plants we are dealing with,” he said, adding that in 90 per cent of the cases, PHE deals with people who face the issue on an individual level.
“Basically, there are two types of pipelines laid by the PHE department which include the Subdistribution line. Usually, in the lanes, these pipelines pass nearby the sewage channels. Sometimes, a breakage or seepage in the pipe can get the water contaminated. Even in such cases, we reach to the spot and replace the pipe,” he said.
He also said that the samples are taken to the department’s testing lab where around 7 relevant tests are carried on the water. If the reports are negative, PHE uses chemicals to clean the water and issues advisory to people as to if they need to stop drinking the water.
However, there are residents receiving water directly from the river as well. A resident of Serch, a community 3 km from Ganderbal, Afshan says that samples of the drinking water were taken to the Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal Piyush Sangla, who despite seeing the water was visibly dirty and black in colour recommended going for laboratory testing, instead of taking immediate action.
“Every now and then, the water supply here is muddy. One day, I collected the water from the tap and took it to the DC. I left the sample with an application mentioning the details. He called back. He said he will send it for lab testing. The water was visibly dirty. There was no need to go for lab testing first. Despite repeated complaints, we still receive the same kind of water,” she said adding that the water they receive comes directly from Sindh river to the households.
“Children take baths in that river, often urinate in that. There may be sewerage pipes connected to it. The water from the plants usually goes into the reservoirs where it is tested and cleaned. What about us? Our water comes directly from the canal to our homes. Despite approaching the DC, nothing has happened,” she added.
The Srinagar Exen PHE and DC Ganderbal were unavailable to talk, despite repeated attempts by this reporter.