Frequent disease outbreaks, faulty pipelines worry for Sambalpur residents

The jaundice outbreak came to light around last week when 22 patients were already detected with the infection.
The city’s water pipelines are in close proximity to open drains which leads to contamination.
The city’s water pipelines are in close proximity to open drains which leads to contamination.Photo | Express

SAMBALPUR: The recent outbreak of jaundice in Sambalpur city along with diarrhoea outbreak in Hirakud town in March, has sparked serious concerns over the city’s faulty water supply lines. Residents are increasingly alarmed as the health crises point towards widespread water contamination.

The city’s water pipelines are in close proximity to open drains. This often leads to contamination as leakages in the pipelines allow sewage and other pollutants to seep into water that is supplied to residents in the city. The jaundice outbreak came to light around last week when 22 patients were already detected with the infection. As on Monday, the total number of cases stands at 82. The spread of the disease is limited to Kumbharpada, Dhobapada and Pensionpada localities in the city. Chief district medical officer Sujata Rani Mishra said no new cases have been reported in the city in the last 24 hours. The spread is under control now and a state team is camping in the city to take stock of the situation.

Though jaundice was not as terrifying as the diarrhoea outbreak in March in which more than 265 patients were affected, in both the cases contamination of supply water was found to be the contributing factor. While the district administration somehow managed to put the entire blame on water contamination during the diarrhoea outbreak in the recent incident, the supply water along with the use of the same by food vendors was declared as the cause behind the spread.

“We are deeply concerned about the quality of drinking water in our city. It is no surprise that so many people are falling ill. The pipelines are old and damaged and run alongside open drains. We need a complete overhaul of the water supply system to ensure our safety,” said a resident Sidhant Bohidar.

Amid the unrest, Water Corporation of Odisha (WATCO) claimed to have initiated action for overhauling of the city’s pipelines. General manager, WATCO, Sambalpur Bramheswar Das said, “After a complete survey of the localities, we have started work on maintaining and changing the water supply lines which were in close proximity to the drains. Several illegal pipe connections were also found during the process and have been removed. In Hirakud we have already replaced 2,500 such connections close to the drains.”

He further informed, “The overhauling was initiated earlier but in a scattered manner. We are now preparing a comprehensive DPR and estimate for overhaul of the pipelines across the city. It will much likely be submitted in next 15 days and once approved, it will take around six months to execute the project.”

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