Tribune News Service
Srinagar, March 12
The threat of typhoid and hepatitis epidemic looms large in Wagoora tehsil of Baramulla district as people are being supplied unsafe drinking water.
Even after five years, the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department has failed to make the water filtration plant functional.
Health Department officials say that in the past one decade, typhoid and hepatitis in Wagoora have been recurring due to supply of unsafe drinking water.
“Every year, hundreds of people in Wagoora tehsil are diagnosed with typhoid and hepatitis as the government supplies water which is poisonous,” said a senior Health Department official in Baramulla.
The epidemic is directly linked to the fact that people are forced to drink water from the polluted Ningli Nullah, the main source of drinking water to dozens of villages in the tehsil.
Both Health Department officials and locals say that typhoid and hepatitis are caused by impure water supplied from the Ningli Nullah, along which are lined over 100 toilets.
The Health Department, the official said, had taken up the issue with the PHE Department many times in the past. “It seems the PHE officials are more into politics rather than addressing the recurring problem,” he said.
Local chemists say that on an average, between March and September, over 60 patients daily complain of typhoid fever or hepatitis and are treated at private clinics in the area.
Bilal Ahmad, a resident of Wagoora, said he had suffered from typhoid several times in the past four years. “I always drink boiled water. But, it is recurring and doctors say that it can be due to use of infected water even for washing utensils or bathing,” he said.
The Wagoora Welfare Committee, which comprises over a dozen members from various villages of the area, is mulling to move court against the PHE Department.
“The government forced us to take legal recourse. We have prepared a public interest litigation which will be filed in the J&K High Court against the PHE Department for supplying us poisonous water,” said WCC member advocate Ishfaq Wani.
While people pay the water usage charges every year, the PHE Department is not providing them safe drinking water, Wani said.
Executive Engineer, PHE, Baramulla, Zaffar Faktoo said the drinking water was disinfected before being supplied to the Wagoora residents. He said the water filtration plant would be made functional in two months. “At least, 90 per cent of the work has been completed. We will now install the electric substation to make the filtration plant functional,” he said.
He said the delay in the construction of the water filtration plant was due to shortage of funds.
The filtration plant, he said, was funded under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), which was not a target scheme of the Central government last year.
“In 2017-2018, the NRDWP is a target scheme and the PHE Department will complete the work ahead of the deadline,” Faktoo said.
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