Fluoride Action Network

Muktsar: Here, drinking water is elixir of death

Source: ExpressIndia | March 16th, 2009 | By Raakhi Jagga
Location: India

Muktsar residents committing slow suicide by drinking 7-foot-deep water

Everyday, Kotkapura Road residents, Vivek Sharma and his wife Neetu, get a 10-litre can filled from the Water Works office campus, after it closes.

They don’t get enough potable water from the regular supply of the Water Works department, and can’t risk their lives by drinking groundwater because of the high fluoride content.

Like them, a number of other families too make a beeline at the Water Works campus on the Kotkapura Road to get water for drinking and cooking purposes, while a few families purchase mineral water from private companies for Re 1 a litre. The department is able to provide water only to 40 per cent of the city and that too for only two hours in a day. At times, not a drop flows through the taps.

In such conditions, bore-wells are the only solution with the residents. But with most of them drinking water from seven feet deep bore-wells — declared unfit for consumption — the problem has only aggravated.

D K Bansal, Superintending Engineer (SE), Public Health department, however, said, “One should not drink groundwater from less than 100 feet deep well. If they are doing so, they are committing suicide. We are spreading awareness about this practice.”

However, the lower rank staff gave divergent views. When asked water till what depth was safe for drinking, the field staff replied, “You can get it at seven feet, and it is okay to draw drinking water from 15 feet depth. There is no need to go beyond.”

The answer of the staff stumped Bansal. “How can they say such a thing? This belt has reported many cases of flourosis and other associated problems. People should themselves take care of their health. We have made a plan to cover the city for 100 per cent water supply and sewer lines’ project under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), on which Rs 50 crore will be spent. This Central grant has been okayed, but the work will start only after elections.”

A number of families have attached RO systems with the groundwater supply, which comes from seven feet depth.

Notably, public health experts and even the doctors in the area have declared upper level water unfit. The report was also sent to the National Rural Health Mission last year. “Less digging means less money, and water at upper level also looks clean,” said Ram Krishan, a resident near the Civil Hospital.

Notably, the city gets water from a canal which travels via Ludhiana and hence gets polluted with heavy metals through the Buddha Nullah. But the water is filtered on the water works campus and then supplied to the city. However, more than half of the city does not get this water. For more than a month, the canal water was not being supplied due to repair work, forcing the city to be completely dependent on groundwater and bore-wells. The supply resumed only a few days ago, after repeated complaints by the residents and farmers.

This is not all, filters of the water works, which should be replaced every year, have not been changed for four years.

Bansal said, “The filters will be changed within a month. And we urge the residents to drink water provided by the Public Health department and they can use the ground water for other purposes.”