Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Apr 17:
The tall claims of the Odisha government about providing pure drinking water facilities, sanitation and other amenities during the Nabakalebara festival in Puri have fallen flat on their face as at least 400 people are afflicted with jaundice in the pilgrim city.
With nearly three months to go for the grand festival of the Lords, as many as 20 slums in the city are under the grip of the water-borne disease.
“Water pollution is the foremost reason behind the spread of jaundice. The water sources are getting contaminated due to leakages in it,” Chief District Medical Officer (Puri) Dr Gyanendra Sahu said.
Around 1600 water samples from different areas of the city were collected and sent to state water testing laboratory at Bhubaneswar. The test report confirmed that at least 400 samples were not fit for drinking, the health official said.
Based on the water sample report, a list of the affected areas has been prepared where public awareness drive will be conducted. Dwellers will be advised to take boiled water and 78 anganwadi workers will be employed for purification of wells, Dr Sahu said.
Notably, the public health department has received many complaints of leakages in drinking water pipelines leading to contamination. Besides, water pipelines have been allegedly damaged at many places during the repair of drainage and sewerage systems in the city ahead of the grand event as a result of which polluted water is getting into these pipelines.
Officials are collecting data from outpatient department and going to the affected areas for purification of water. In addition to this, indoor patients are being provided free treatment in the government-run hospital, Sahu said.
It may be recalled that the Odisha government had set a deadline of March 31 to complete the repair and renovation of drainage, sewerage, piped water supply and laying of underground electric cables following which repair and construction of roads was to be undertaken by the Works department.
Director of Public Health Kailash Das had visited the city last Wednesday to take stock of the situation. During his visit, he held discussions with health officials and inspected the district headquarters hospital.
Das had expressed his displeasure over treatment facilities provided to the jaundice affected patients, the absence of a special ward for these patients and free treatment to them.
Following his visit, the hospital authorities have made necessary arrangements viz, special ward for jaundice patients and free treatment to them among others.
Meanwhile, a blame game has ensued between the health department and the Public Health department over the cause of the spread of the jaundice infection. The latter has dismissed reports of water contamination due to leakages in the pipelines.