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Drain water in Delhi colony taps

The water in the bottle held out by Renu Sharma, a resident of Malviya Nagar, was foul-smelling and muddy. But for the last month and a half, it is what coming out of the taps in Malviya Nagar, affecting at least 70 households in H-block, where many residents are falling prey to gastroenteritis.

The reason for the dirty water seems to be seepage from a nearby sewer line where digging was going on till last week when the work was stopped after a labourer fell into the 12-feet-deep sewer line and died. Residents claim that Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has done little to redress the situation, despite repeated complaints.

“The problem started around December 20,” said Renu Sharma. “The water that came out from the taps was not fit for washing or drinking. My daughter and I have already got gastroenteritis and my mother-in-law, who is aging, is also not well.”

Kalpana Agarwal, another resident, whose house is right next to the dug up sewer line, complained: “The area has been dug up for a while now. The place stinks, there is stagnant water there and the water from the taps is dark and foul-smelling.”

Most residents are forced to spend an exorbitant amount on buying bottled drinking water from the market. There is also a DJB tanker which comes to the neighbourhood around 11 am every morning. “If we miss the tanker, we don’t get enough water for the whole day,” said Lata Singh, another resident. Singh, a school teacher and Sharma, a government employee, have been forced to take leave from their offices in order to deal with the situation. “Someone has to be home when the tanker comes,’ says Singh. “We can’t, however, be on leave indefinitely.”

The residents claim repeated pleas to DJB have not yielded any result. “We went in person to complain and have also written to them repeatedly,” says Sharma.

“All they do is clear the pipes with suction machines and ply a water tanker daily — both temporary measures. The phone numbers of DJB officials given on the agency’s website don’t actually seem to exist while most senior officials are ‘unavailable’ when we want to speak to them. After a month of the problem, they had started work but even this stopped after the accident,” he added.

DJB officials, meanwhile, alleged that residents had man-handled supervisors when they went to restart work after the accident. “Work will resume in a day or two,” assured a DJB official. “However, the main problem is with individual sewer connections, which are faulty, thus leading to seepages.”

“Due to space constraints, water lines and sewer lines are laid parallel to each other, without a safe distance between them. This leads to contamination. It is a big challenge but we will definitely handle it,” said a senior DJB official.

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