Shimla: It’s not the first time that an jaundice epidemic outbreak in some localities of the city has been caused because of sewage contaminated water being supplied to the residents but what is unusual is that city mayor Sanjay Chauhan and his deputy have lodged a criminal negligence police complaint against the state government agency supplying the water.
City police chief DW Negi made public that contractors and some officials of Irrigation and Public Health department have been booked sections 336, 269, 270 & 277 of IPC and sections 43 & 44 of Water Prevention and Pollution Control Act over criminal negligence that was endangering public life.
Earlier a team led by Mayor Chauhan and deputy mayor Tikender Panwar visited a water supply source (Ashwani Khud) that lies at the toe of the hill city and found that untreated water released from a sewage treatment plant constructed higher up in the hill was mixing up with and contaminating the drinking water supply.
In December 2015, there has been a spurt in jaundice cases being reported at the city hospitals. Most cases were reported from Vikasnagar, Kasumpati and New Shimla localities.
Taking notice of the issue, the Himachal Pradesh High Court summoned the state chief secretary on 5th January and has asked him to file a status report by today.
The water supply from the contaminated source has been suspended since 4th January and the city is facing shortage of water to meet its daily needs.
Jaundice outbreaks because of contaminated water supply have been regularly happening in Shimla. One was reported in March 2013 and yet another was reported in February 2010.
Each time the very same localities of Vikasnagar Kasumpati, New Shimla and other adjoining areas that are supplied water from the contaminated Ashwani Khud source are the most affected. The water supply is found to be contaminated with sewage water and other pollutants.
Himachal is a water surplus state but is unable to find enough water to meet the needs of Shimla, Solan, Dharamshala and other hill stations in the state.
The government continues to lay emphasis on power generation, and has either sold or leased out most potential power generation sites on rivers and streams in the state.
An alternate water scheme from Shimla has been on the drawing board for decades. It has held promise of supplying water 24/7 but for want of political consensus and funding has not reached the execution stage.
Till an alternate water supply scheme does not augment the current supply scheme, the residents remain at the mercy of the Municipal Corporation and the government’s Irrigation and Public Health department for being served up with contaminated water.
As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post.
Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.