SAMBALPUR: Hepatitis is taking the shape of an epidemic in most parts of Sambalpur town. Doctors have attributed the reason for spread of the disease to contaminated drinking water supplied by PHED.
While the number of patients afflicted with the virus is on the rise with each passing day, the PHED seems to have turned a blind eye to the impending danger.
Sources said the drinking water pipeline network, which passes near some of the drains in the town, has been damaged at several places resulting in waste getting mixed with water. The contaminated water is the cause of spread of the disease, the sources added.
Though the number of deaths due to Hepatitis is yet to be ascertained, sources said an employee of State Bank of India (SBI), Main Branch Maheswar Sahu died due to the disease a few days back in a hospital in Bhubaneswar where he was undergoing treatment. In fact, panic has gripped the employees of SBI Main Branch after six clerical and seven supervisory employees were diagnosed with Hepatitis.
Cloth merchant Radheshyam Agrawal of Sambalpur town informed that four of his eight-member family are suffering from the disease. There are several families in his area who are afflicted with the disease, he claimed.
Dibya Kishore Behera, a packaged drinking water supplier, said more families are opting for packaged drinking water after the Hepatitis scare. He said recently, eight families have joined his list of customers.
Maintaining that water purifiers cannot save people from Hepatitis, Medicine Specialist Dr Kabirdas Purohit said about 30 patients are visiting him daily with complaints of Hepatitis. He said people using water purifiers should instead drink boiled water.
Similar sentiment was echoed by Medicine Specialist Dr Manoj Nanda of Police Hospital. He said around 10 Hepatitis patients from Police Reserve Line are visiting him daily and their number is on the rise.
When contacted, Executive Engineer Manoranjan Nanda said the PHED is taking the issue seriously. After receiving complaints, they had sent 20 samples of water from various areas of the town for testing but presence of Hepatitis causing virus was not found.
He informed that a special squad has been formed to repair pipeline damage and about 50 leakages have been repaired so far.