Questions have been raised on the silence of the Public Health Engineering (PHE) department after 44 localities have been supplied with harmful drinking water.
The State Food Testing Laboratory, Commissionerate of Food Safety has found water samples in 44 out of 46 localities in the city unsafe and not as per FSSAI standards.
From Coliform and E. coli organisms with low pH value, high turbidity, and iron content above the prescribed limit the report has shocked residents.
The Shillong Municipal Board and the Public Health Engineering Department are responsible for distributing piped water in the localities. Till date no official statement has been issued on the matter except for a review meeting.
“Is this unclean drinking water from the source or down the line? BJP Spokesperson Gregory Shullai questioned and wants an answer. “Can the PHE at least tell the public what’s going on? The department should clarify what is happening between the source and the delivery points,” he added.
Pointing out that there are localities that have their own water supply source and providing safe water like Risa Colony, which did not feature in the list, he said, “If a locality without engineers supplies 100 per cent clean water then it is embarrassing for a department to not clarify things.”
“When water is supplied to our household we believe that it is safe for drinking. Now when it has been proved that it is unclean they (PHE) should at least have the decency to write that the water supplied is not for drinking purposes,” Shullai said.
It may be mentioned that the water samples were voluntarily collected by the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) from 46 localities within the city and send them for tests.
Rangbah Shnong of Nongrim Hills Bantylli Nari said that the government and the PHE department is expected to take concrete steps on the matter.
He also said that such testing of the water by non-governmental organisation should be encouraged and all dorbar shnongs should take such steps.
Former civil servant Toki Blah said that the result of unclean water is because of the uncared attitude of the PHE. “No doubt the result of unclean water is contamination of various sources because of various human activities including improper drainage, etc,” but also question the sort of treatment plant installed at Mawphlang.
He said there are many types of treatment of water like the slow sand filtration to clean water of organic matters and treatment plant for treating chemical waste. “I believe that for the kind of amount spent there the treatment plant should be able to treat organic, inorganic and chemical matters and the PHE is the one responsible for the drinking water supply because it has all the resources,” he added.
Blah said that the PHE should admit that the water supplied is unclean. “Instead of defending it should come out clear and take steps and the public should question it,” he said.
He further added that development is not just about buildings, roads and growth in population but with civic amenities like supply of clean drinking water.
Meanwhile, FKJGP president Dundee Khongsit said the organisation will collect more water samples. He said if the government remains unbothered the organisation will decide on its further steps.
“If the government cannot provide the basic amenities to public then it has no right to govern the state,” he added.