Water gets dirtier in fight for it

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SummaryTabassum Barnagarwala finds residents of P-south ward living in the perpetual fear of contaminated water, especially at ‘fix points’ where they break pipes

The biggest battle for residents in P-south ward, comprising Goregaon (East and West), is getting clean drinking water. Those living in slums - the ward spanning almost 30 sq kms has five prominent clusters - do not receive regular water supply and resort to breaking water pipes, a major reason for contamination. Besides broken pipes, open drainage, poor hygiene practices and improper joints also lead to water leakage leading to contamination.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Environmental Status Report for 2011-12 highlights Goregaon as the place with the highest water contamination. Almost 26 per cent of samples collected from Goregaon was unfit for drinking. A major chunk of the ward’s total population of 4,61,304 is accounted for by slum-dwellers, says ward officer R V Biradar. “Quite often, there is theft of water and people living in slums break pipes for that purpose. These breakages are one of the reasons for contamination of water,” he says.

The five prominent slum clusters in the ward are Best Nagar, Zopadpatti, Vithalpada Gavathan Chincholi Bunder, Aarey Colony Unit no. 5, Squatters Colony and Kanyapada Gokuldham. The first four figure permanently in the list of “fix point”, areas from where BMC regularly extracts samples for checking contamination. There are currently 10 “fix points” in the ward.

“As soon as we receive a complaint, we collect the water sample from the pipeline and send it to Dadar G-North office for analysis, which usually takes a couple of days,” says health department officer Dr Chetan Satone. The sample can belong to one of the three categories — fit, unfit and E-coli. In case the sample belongs to unfit or e-coli category, it cannot be used for potable purposes. “Water containing E-coli bacteria is flushed out into the sea until the pipeline gets cleared,” says water department officer Rupesh Khardikar. In June, E-coli sample water was found in Squatters Colony.

Since January, the department has received 28 complaints. It collected samples from 812 spots, of which samples from 54 places were unfit and six other samples had traces of E-coli bacteria. In July alone, 13 samples were found unfit for

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