Ghaziabad: The district health department has found the presence of contamination in drinking water samples at Swarn Jayanti Puram residential locality, where two children —aged five and seven — died on July 20 and 21 respectively due to diarrhoea, vomiting and other health complications.
Officials said that four of the five water samples they picked up for testing were found to have the presence of H2S (hydrogen sulfide), which indicates that the drinking water sources got mixed with sewerage.
The deaths of the two minors were reported from the locality’s residential pocket meant for the economically weaker sections (EWS). The colony is yet to be handed over to the Ghaziabad municipal corporation and is maintained by the Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA).
The two agencies are already blaming each other over the two deaths after the health department wrote to them and also to the state administration.
According to local residents, about 20 persons, including 10-12 children are still suffering from ailments due to the water contamination.
“Our teams from Harsaon, Dasna and also from the integrated disease surveillance programme laboratory have been roped in. They collected the samples and are also treating people who have symptoms. The chlorination of water has also been taken up but it is a temporary measure. The agencies must check for any sewer line leakage which is resulting in mixing of dirty water to the drinking water source,” said Dr Rakesh Gupta, district surveillance officer.
Dr Gupta added that the four drinking water samples that failed the test contained the presence of H2S.
“This indicates that there is mixing of sewage in drinking water pipelines. The area around the locality has three ponds which are dirty and people also complained that hand-pump water also contained insects. Our teams are conducting regular visits,” Dr Gupta added.
GDA officials have blamed the corporation for the contaminated water. “The water from the ponds is overflowing and it is contaminated. People even reported that they spotted carcasses of animals in ponds. These areas are under the jurisdiction of the municipal corporation. On our part, we are supplying safe water through tankers and also making efforts so that overflowing water does not enter the locality,” said Rakesh Kumar Gupta, GDA chief engineer.
Corporation officials, however, refuted the claims and said that the issues have largely resulted on account of unclean surroundings and ill-maintained localities.
“The water contamination is the result of unhygienic and ill-maintained surroundings. On our part, we have carried out cleaning and beautification of the three ponds. The GDA must take up the maintenance of the locality as it is yet to be handed over to the corporation,” said Mahendra Singh Tanwar, Ghaziabad municipal commissioner.
The two children who died include five-year-old Krishna and seven-year-old Ankita.
Ankita’s father Manohar Singh said that the government must take responsibility for the deaths of the children.
“The locality is low-lying and water flows in from ponds and nearby areas. The ponds are unhygienic and filled with filth and we can term them as ‘jahar ka kuan’ (well of poison). There are some people who rear pigs and these animals mostly stay in the ponds. This creates more filth. We mostly rely on packaged water for drinking. We also never use submersible water as the groundwater is also not safe here. The water from the overhead tank is used only for washing, bathing etc.,” Singh said.
“My daughter suffered from diarrhoea on the night of July 20. Before we could take her for treatment the next morning, she died. There are about a dozen people who are admitted to the government hospital at Sanjay Nagar and these include one of my other daughters. Some families have already left the locality,” Singh added.
Residents said that since they belong to the poor strata of the society, they have been neglected with hardly any agencies paying heed to their safe drinking water needs and different sources have added to the water contamination.
“We have had drinking water issues for several years now. The nearby ponds are stinking and filthy and have complicated matters. The overhead tank water has the presence of insects. My son suffered severe complications on the afternoon of July 21 and died within four hours. My wife also died last year due to similar health issues and now my son also passed away. I am left with only a minor daughter. So, I have planned to shift to my native village in Baghpat,” said Anil Kumar, father of deceased Krishna.
“Since the water contamination started about a week ago, we are now forced to fetch water from nearby localities. We are also buying bottled water for consumption purposes. My son has also fallen ill like many others. We have two hand-pumps in our locality but they discharge filthy water. Clean drinking water is our main concern and different sources have compounded our problems,” said Sunil Kumar, another Swarn Jayanti Puram resident.