Defunct filtration plants pose threat to Valleyities
Srinagar, May 6: While latest studies have revealed that people in Kashmir were consuming contaminated water and had been under constant threat of water-borne diseases, unavailability of experts and defunct infrastructure in filtration plants across the Valley is a clear sign of how serious Jammu and Kashmir government is to address the problem of contaminated water.
The latest census report of Government of India and a study by Integrated Disease Surveillance Unit (IDSU), Srinagar, have revealed that more than half of the population of JK is vulnerable to water-borne diseases. The findings have also brought to fore that the Coliform count of tap water was alarmingly increasing in the region.
People across the Valley, however, had been dissatisfied with the functioning of filtration plants, saying they were not getting safe drinking water “at all”. “We do not really know if these filtration plants do work or not? Providing safe drinking water is a farfetched dream. If we take a glass of water all the contamination will accumulate at the bottom; and that is their so-called filtration,” said, Manzoor Ahmad, of Harwan.
Although having a filtration plant in the area, residents of Harwan resented its functioning. “The water they supply is unfiltered,” they said.
When Greater Kashmir visited the Harwan filtration plant, only one daily-wage employee could be seen handling the whole plant. The employee was a one-man-operation. He had been given the responsibility of both keeping an eye over the plant and mixing powders for filtration process. However, according to researchers filtration process cannot be undertaken by a daily-wage employer. The Chief Engineer told Greater Kashmir that filtration process is undertaken by experts. The store at the plant where the powders and alum are kept was filthy.
Another plant at Ishber, Shalimar, was non-functional which had been supplying unfiltered water to the households. The residents said the plant was only functioning as a reservoir. “There is no filtration taking place. It just acts as a reservoir. They gather water in the tanks and supply to us directly. We had been appealing to the authorities to see if there is any filtration taking place,” said a resident, Fayaz Ahmad.
Employees at the filtration plant said they had no mechanism to filter water but distributing the same water to households directly. “Whatever gets accumulated here we just directly pass. This is just a water supply scheme and it doesn’t filter water. We also look forward for establishment of a filtration plant as people need it badly,” said an employee, on the condition of anonymity.
Pertinently, people have been demanding establishment or repairing of filtration plants in their localities.
Researchers said unavailability and lack of proper infrastructure in filtration plants had been the second reason why people were getting contaminated water through taps. “It is now a proven fact that water supplied to households in Kashmir is contaminated. At this point of crisis, filtration plants are supposed to be the agents that could rid water of the contamination. But it is a sad story the way filtration plants are functioning in Kashmir,” an Entomologist, pleading anonymity, told Greater Kashmir.
He said the situation in headquarters was to some extent approving but the contamination of water and unavailability of filtration plants in far-off areas was the most worrying part. “The break-out of diseases in far-flung areas is directly related to the water contamination and absence of filtration plants. In the past three years, for instance, mysterious disease breakouts were reported from north Kashmir areas like Kupwara,” the entomologist said.
At places there are filtration plants but what they lack is proper mechanism and procedure of filtration, he said. “Not only rivers and lakes, filtration plants at high altitudes are also prone to Coliform bacteria as the inhabitants there contaminate the water. The water which is then pumped to filtration plants carries a lot of faecal matter and if that is not filtered could be a cause of disease break-out. And that’s what happens in far-off areas where there is not a filtration plant in place and water is circulated to population directly,” he said.
Chief Engineer, PHE Kashmir, Ghulam Hassan Zargar said the valley has 1600 filtration plants and 650 more were under construction. “I do not think studies carried out are completely right. We are supplying filtered water to every town. And the mechanism followed in filtration plants is completely professional,” he said.
Zargar said 1000 habitations were yet to be brought under PHE. “At least 650 schemes are under way and we are planning to initiate filtration plants in far-off areas too. It will take us two years to fully cover the areas which are getting less supply and unfiltered water,” the Chief Engineer said.
He said wherever there was a water supply scheme it was attached by a filtration plant. But the situation on ground is different. In Ishber, Shalimar the water supply scheme has no filtration plant “attached” and people continue to receive raw water. “The water supply scheme at Ishber is an old one. Alternatively, new plants are being constructed,” Zargar said.
Accepting that raw water was being supplied to far-off areas, the Chief Engineer said under New National Rural Drinking Water Supply Programme they will reach out to the areas.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 7 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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