Even as a Parliamentary panel has rung alarm bells over arsenic contamination of drinking water in the country causing “incurable diseases”, the health authorities in Bathinda and Mansa districts are yet to take action to ensure clean drinking water to people.

Around 41 per cent of the water samples lifted from government schools in Mansa district have failed to pass potability test. According to a survey conducted by the Mansa Health Department this year, 160 out of 390 samples taken from government schools have been found to contain high bacterial, fluoride and chloride contents.

Last year, about 295 out of 657 samples (from some schools two samples were taken) had failed on account of high bacterial content.

The sources of water in these schools are hand pumps, taps supplying water from the water works and underground water being dug out by motors. However, the earlier reports had not mentioned fluoride, arsenic and other contents found in water.

Interestingly, a number of samples taken from Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants installed at schools too have failed. Sources said these RO plants were never cleaned.

Similarly, the Bathinda Health Department took about 381 samples of water from different areas of the district, including 94 samples of government schools. Out of these, 87 samples failed, which included 10 from schools. About 20 other samples from schools too had failed but when water samples were taken again after chlorination, samples were passed.

Samples from the water works of villages including Sangat Mandi, Chakk Heera Singh, Bangi Ruldu, Naseebpura, Gehri Buttar, Fatehgarh Nawapind, Harkishanpura and many others failed the test.

Notably, earlier the Center Ground Water Board (CGWB) team, including chemical geologists and hydro-geologists, too had collected various water samples from Mansa district. They had found that arsenal and fluoride contents were exceeding the limits fixed by the World Health Organisation, thus making water unfit for drinking.

Experts say excessive fluoride consumption could cause skeletal fluorosis, Alzheimer’s disease besides dental fluorosis.

Mansa Civil Surgeon Dr Vinod Kumar said, “We generally apprise the District Education Officer concerned about contaminated sources of water but they do not take action. We can only remove the hand of hand pumps but the school authorities again make them operational. Only the Deputy Commissioner and the district administration can take proper action.”

ADC (General) Mansa Isha Kalia, said, “Only a week ago, I had convened a meeting regarding failed water samples and had given 15 days’ time to health and education officials to check sources that provide contaminated water. ROs would be provided in schools that do not have them. Instructions were given to the Education Department to get the service of ROs done. There are a number of problems, including shortage of funds, being faced by schools. We will put our best efforts to provide potable water to schoolchildren.”