Water contamination at Kerala office leaves cops high and dry

Many of them suffered from health issues such as vomiting, stomach ache, nausea and sudden fever; currently, they have switched to packaged drinking water
Representational image
Representational image

KOCHI: On Tuesday, when the entire district as well as the state was glued to screens watching the Lok Sabha elections unfold, officers at the Kochi City Police Commissioner’s Office were grappling with severe health issues.

Reason: Contamination of the office’s water tank at Revenue Tower near Marine Drive.

The contaminated water hit officers hard, with many of them suffering from health issues such as vomiting, stomach ache, nausea and sudden fever. Following this, they switched to packaged drinking water. The water samples from the tank were sent for tests.

The results revealed the presence of the klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria (Klebsiella SPP), which causes a wide range of illnesses, including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, meningitis, and urinary tract infections, sources told TNIE.

“The test by the Regional Public Health Laboratory, Ernakulam, indicated that the pH value of the collected water was 6.4 (normal water is between 6.5 and 8.5), and the water did not exhibit turbidity or odour,” said a source, adding that the unexpected health issues hit work schedules, affecting the functioning of the squad.

When contacted, Kochi City Police Commissioner S Syamsundar said upon getting the test results, the water tank was gently cleaned using chlorine, and new samples sent for another test on Wednesday. “We are awaiting the result,” he said.

Sources said they realised the seriousness of the issue after some police officers suffered from stomach ache and vomiting.

“We alerted the health department. The test of water samples that followed confirmed contamination,” said an employee working in the office. “Some are still experiencing discomfort,” said the staffer, adding, “We are now drinking packaged water bought from outside,” he said.

Employees of revenue and lottery offices as well as a commercial bank functioning in the building too faced health issues, but the extent of the problem is not known.

“Considering the seriousness of the matter, higher officials called up an urgent meeting . We are seeking immediate intervention from the Kerala State Housing Board, which owns the building,” said the employee.

Eldo Kuriakose, a lab technician and owner of Cochin Test House, a water testing laboratory in Irumpanam, Tripunithura, said pH value of water may fluctuate with differing environmental factors.

“Water from some freshwater open wells might show pH value below 5. The value may depend on soil acidity, uncertainty of the meter, and other factors. We can’t conclude the water is polluted based only on the pH value,” he said, adding, “However, detection of the klebsiella bacteria is serious.”

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