Engineers at water filtration plants asked to submit reports

Tap water samples fail tests, Jammu officials tight-lipped over issue

Sumit Hakhoo
Tribune News Service
Jammu, November 21

After a report revealed that tap water supplied to nearly 15 lakh population in Jammu has failed quality parameters, the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department has directed all filtration plants and engineers to submit a detailed report of their respective areas.

Although senior officials in the PHE Department are still tightlipped over the results as they claim that neither the report nor places from where samples have been lifted has been shared, but sources claim that areas being supplied from river Tawi and decades-old distribution network of underground pipes may be the culprit for the failure of samples.

Jammu is one of the cities where all 10 samples lifted randomly by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) were said to have failed to clear the six quality parameters. Tests were conducted on parameters such as organoleptic and physical tests, chemical test, toxic substances and bacteriological tests in the first stage.

There are three major filtration plants — Sitle, Tawi lift station and Boria —on Tawi, a main sub-surface drinking water source being exploited by the PHE Department but is one of the worst affected by influx of untreated sewage from major towns and habitations along its course.

It collectively supplies 25 million gallon daily (MGD) to Jammu. The total requirement for the city is about 60 MGD, augmented by tubewells.

“One possible reason could be that residential colonies continue to get drinking water supply from old and rusted pipes laid decades back, which have exceeded their original design life. It could be the main source of contamination. Plans to replace them has not received much attention due to the cost factor”, said a senior administrative official. Officials said polluted Tawi is the only surface source.

Jammu, once the seat of Dogra power got its first organised water supply in 1934 when then Maharaja Hari Singh built the water treatment plant at Panjtirthi. It was expanded in decade of 1950s and 1990s when the city saw expansion due to the influx of refugees.

When contacted, the Chief Engineer, PHE, Sanjeev Chadha, said, “We have so far no information from where the samples have been lifted. Even the report has not been shared with us. But I have sought details from the engineers concerned”.

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