Odisha orders twice-yearly water tests following diarrhoea, jaundice surge

Sources said at least six outbreaks of diarrhoea and jaundice have been reported in the state in the first half of the year.
For representational purposes only
For representational purposes onlyFile Photo

BHUBANESWAR: As the state witnesses a spurt in diarrhoea and jaundice cases in several districts due to contamination of water sources, the Odisha government has decided to go for mandatory bacteriological testing of all supply systems twice a year.

Sources said at least six outbreaks of diarrhoea and jaundice have been reported in the state in the first half of the year. Most of the cases were attributed to water contamination.

After the major diarrhoea outbreak in Rourkela in last December that left over 10 dead and hundreds affected, more than 150 people were affected and one died in diarrhoea in Sambalpur’s Hirakud and Puri district in April this year. Sambalpur is also in the grip of a major jaundice outbreak with more than 100 people testing positive in the last fortnight, nearly two months after similar outbreaks in Cuttack and Keonjhar districts.

With complaints pouring in over supply of drinking water without quality tests at several lifting and distribution points, the Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water department has directed all districts to ensure that the drinking water supplied to households is properly and regularly tested at both source and distribution points.

Sufficient number of field testing kits have been distributed to all gram panchayats along with a target to test seven lakh samples across the state. The collectors have been asked to ensure chemical testing of all water supply sources once a year, bacteriological testing of all water supply sources twice a year and regular testing at household level.

Apart from a state-of-the-art state-level laboratory, Odisha has 77 laboratories at district and sub-divisional level for testing of drinking water. Among the laboratories, 43 have already got NABL accreditation/recognition for ensuring the quality and competence of testing. While the district and sub-district level laboratories are mandated to conduct chemical and bacteriological tests of water supply sources in rural areas, efforts are on to get NABL accreditation for 20 more laboratories this year.

Principal secretary Sushil Lohani has instructed districts to engage women SHG members who have been trained to conduct water quality testing at household level using field testing kits. The state has around 60,000 women SHG members trained to test water quality by using kits.

Officials have also been advised to put robust chlorination systems in place for disinfection of all drinking water supply sources in rural areas and conduct regular monitoring every month to take stock of the progress of testing.

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