Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 14:
Apprehensions have been expressed whether the administration is equipped to provide safe drinking water to the estimated 30 lakh people set to visit Odisha’s holy town of Puri for the mega Nabakalebara Rath Yatra on July 18.
Such doubts have a sound basis since test reports have found a majority of samples drawn from varied sources in the town, including those from some big hotels, to be contaminated .The water used by these hotels is unfit for drinking, the reports have revealed.
According to sources, 679 water samples have been tested in Puri by Monday and reports have shown that 70 of them are unfit for drinking. Out of them, 37 water sources are contaminated. These contaminated water sources include 23 deep tube wells, 10 bore wells, a tube well and a tap.
The report revealed 32 of the water sources to be moderately contaminated. However, these water sources can be made fit for drinking after treatment, said Babaji Charan Das, Commissioner, Food Safety.
The tests have also found drinking water sold in pouches under the brand name of ‘Iceberg’ and ‘Aquafresh’ to be contaminated. Notices have already been served to companies manufacturing these products, official sources said.
While production of ‘Iceberg’ brand’s pouch drinking water has been stopped, steps are being taken to seal the production facilities of Aquafresh brand within a day or two, the sources revealed.
“By now 3,800 drinking water pouches have been seized,” informed Das on Monday.
The worrying factor is test reports have shown that water in 25 big hotels is unfit for drinking. Notices have been served to these hotels. These hotels have been asked to go for treatment of their water sources and contact the Directorate of Public Health in this regard. Water samples from these hotels will be tested again by the directorate and clearances given if they are found fit for human consumption, Das said.
32 out of the total water sources are some hotels and tap water. Though water in these is not dangerous, still these have been served with notices for treatment of their water sources.
“Alternative arrangements are underway to provide safe drinking water to the people,” said Das.
People had to wade through knee-deep water accumulated on the Grand Road in Puri after a short spell of low pressure induced rains on Saturday and it took several hours to get the accumulated cleared, ripping holes in the government’s tall claims of infrastructural preparedness for the mega Nabakalebara Rath Yatra.
The issue of unsafe water will certainly add to the headache of the government in view of the estimated 30 lakh people expected to visit the town during the festival.