Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Down with fever? BLAME BWSSB

Down with fever? BLAME BWSSB
Pathetic Sanitation And Water System Are Giving Rise To Myriad Diseases
Aarthi R & Nirmala M Nagaraj | TNN

Bangalore: If Bangalore is disease-prone, don’t simply blame the climate or allergens. Or even the people’s immune system.
Water and vector-borne infections are on the rise and the flu toll is giving the city the tag of ‘H1N1 capital’. The cause? Inadequate sanitation coverage and unclean water, say doctors and researchers.
This time, the mud sticks with the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB). The wait for ‘regular’ drinking water in 2012 apart, many of the newly added areas of BBMP still have no proper sanitary connections or sewage system. New layouts and CMCs still have temporary measures like septic tanks and soak pits.
This is sealed by a condemning World Bank study recently, which says: “Bangalore Urban sanitation cover is still just 50.29% and Rural Bangalore is 38.37%’’. This has also influenced the disease pattern over the past two years.
WATER CONTAMINATED
Last year, with increasing water contamination, there was an outbreak of water-borne diseases. Almost every alternative month, there was a gastroenteritis outbreak, much of it due to contaminated water and corroded old lines. There’s still a regular inflow of GE patients at the Isolation hospitals. However, this year, the pattern has been more vector-borne, signalling the bad civic condition of the city.
Footpaths even along posh MG Road and busy Church Street have overflowing manholes, which lead to widening of potholes and craters on the roads. Further, these lanes are dotted with eat-outs.
Leaking sanitary lines, cross-contamination and mosquito menace in the open drainage system has led to Bangalore having the highest prevalence of chikungunya cases this year across 26 BBMP areas. (See box for affected areas).
FEVERS ABOUND
Viral fever has also been in its worst phase, with 80% of the government hospital load being fever patients. Most parts of the city were affected. More so, that when WHO declared a pandemic alert for H1N1 flu, there was panic among viral fever and seasonal flu patients. There have been a significant number of dengue deaths also this year, in Peenya, Laggere, Fraser Town and Malleswaram areas. Here, contaminated surface water alone is not the culprit. Even the ground water, which is a major source of drinking water, is affected with fluoride causing fluorosis in a significant number of people, leading to dental and spinal problems, doctors said.
WHAT CAUSES GROUNDWATER
CONTAMINATION?
Mainly improper sewage system, again. Much of it due to increasing number of crossconnections. Such cases are more common in the newly added and congested areas. The cross-connections are vulnerable junctions for spread of cholera germs, hepatitis, jaundice. Is it possible to revamp the entire system?Perhaps almost impossible in most areas. But again possible in areas like Chamarajpet and Malleswaram, which are closer to existing water ponds. (Thankfully, Sankey Tank is still under ‘regular’ maintenance.) However, we could make best use of available resources, by avoiding commercialization of water and adopt rainwater harvesting, suggest most groundwater experts in the city. WATER
POLLUTION
Study of three-month water sample analysis at the Public Health Institute (PHI) reveals that a majority of water used for drinking is contaminated
In Bangalore Urban (mainly BBMP areas), out of 117 borewell water samples tested, 39 were found ‘unfit’. Out of 16 open well samples tested, 13 were found unfit and 160 of 591 tap water samples tested were rendered unfit for drinking. Generally, water samples from Koramangala and Shantinagar are found to be polluted This includes the ‘crystal clear’ mineral water sold in the city. Even in recent times, residents in prime areas like Indiranagar and Cox Town who purchased mineral water cans from their local grocery store, found suspended impurities Shockingly, PHI report from January to May for stool testing report for cholera culture have also shown 9 samples as positive
CONTAMINATION
CONTROL
Main problem: Many parts of the present 8,000-km sewage line network (both main line and sub-line) is decades old, rusted, leaking and needs to be replaced No regular monitoring of drinking water quality that reaches households
SUGGESTION
BOX
Firstly, government must bring in a legislation for groundwater Groundwater recharge should be practised on war footing Rainwater harvesting Curb increasing commercialisation of water Check cross-connections DISEASE PATTERN: THIS YEAR
Chikungunya (across 26 BBMP areas): JJR Nagar, Jaibhuvaneshwarnagar, Nandini Layout, Jumma Masjid Road, DJ Halli, Kadugondanahalli, JCR Nagar at Yeshwantpur, RT Nagar, Guttepalya at Jayanagar and Tannery Road Dengue: Peenya, Laggere, Fraser Town, Malleswaram Cholera, Hepatitis, Jaundice: Cases mainly from newly added areas and congested city centre

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