Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 26:
While jaundice has triggered panic in Sambalpur and Cuttack city, the people of Bhubaneswar are apprehensive of the outbreak of the deadly water-borne virus following the reports by the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) and the CAG that the water supplied from the rivers to the city as well as the groundwater used by residents is highly polluted and unfit for drinking.
The OSPCB, in its report to the government, has said that the water supplied from Daya and Kuakhai rivers to the state capital are unfit for drinking as it is severely contaminated.
But far from taking preventive measures, the state government has tried to sweep the whole thing under the carpet.
Sources in the Urban Development (UD) department said while there are a number of illegal pipe water connections in the city, most of the pipelines have been laid inside drains and underground sewerage.
Though the department has formed special squads for immediate repair and replacement of pipelines and disconnection of illegal pipe water connections, there has been no replacement of old pipelines in some parts of the city till date.
The public health department says it is keeping a watch on the water supplied by it, but it has not taken any steps to purify the groundwater used by the people in their own houses.
The capital city receives 270 million litres of water per day of which 216 million litres are discharged as waste water through 609-km sewerage lines. As there is no treatment plant to purify the discharged waste water, it is released into the Gangua nullah and Budhi nullah that fall into Daya and Kuakhai rivers.
Besides, the solid wastes carried by the waste water are found stagnating at several places along the river banks for years. As a result, the groundwater in these areas have been grossly polluted, said the OSPCB report.
Even the Public Health department feels that the underground water used from the well, tube well bore well by the people living in Budhi nullah and Gangua nullah areas is not safe.
The sewerage system in Bhubaneswar is yet to be implemented as there is no treatment plant in the city, said BC Tripathy, project engineer, Odisha Water Supply and Sewerage Board. The laying of sewerage lines, which began in the city in 2008, has been less than 50 percent so far, he said.
Tripathy said while the state government had created six sewerage districts for Bhubaneswar and planned to set up six treatment plants in the city, construction of five treatment plants has not even begun due to legal disputes over land.
“As a result, the waste waters of the city are now released through the old sewerage lines,” he informed.
Besides, the mushrooming of apartments in the city has contributed significantly to the contamination of groundwater as waste water discharged from these apartments has remained stagnant at some places for years.
“Since we do not have any treatment plants to purify the waste waters, we are releasing the waters through two old sewerage lines. There would be no problem after the Sewerage Board completes its work”, said Khitish Chandra Sahu, chief engineer, Public Health.