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Too dirty to drink, says Mango

Water, water somewhere, not a drop to drink. The lines from a Coleridge poem can be tweaked to tell the torment of 300,000 residents of a parched Mango who have little choice but to use contaminated water as an ambitious Rs 64.18-crore project to quench their thirst is dragging its feet since 2005.

Against a daily requirement of 10.5 million gallons of water, the city neighbourhood receives a supply of only 1.2 million gallons. And to make matters worse, the supply — available only three days a week — is not fit for drinking. Reason: the filtration plant has not been cleaned for more than three months, leading to layers of scum and dirt choking the four settling tanks.

Water from the intake well near Subernarekha is stored in these open tanks and treated with bleaching powder, lime and alum. But, the authorities have failed to clean the tanks, citing manpower crunch.

Mango Vikas Samiti member Vijay Tiwary said water-borne diseases were already stalking the locality. “We have no option but to drink this foul water. Though we filter and boil the water, they do not make it completely pure. Besides, in this discomforting summer, boiled water takes longer to cool. We have written several times to the drinking water and sanitation department, requesting tank clean-up but in vain,” Tiwary, a resident of Old Purulia Road in Mango, said.

Child specialist Y. Luktuke too confirmed that water woes had invited maladies in several Mango pockets. “I am advising parents to ensure that children are always given boiled water and not just filtered water,” he said.

Mango subdivisional officer (drinking water and sanitation) Jason Horo conceded that settling tanks of the filtration plant had not been cleaned for the past few months, but complained of inadequate workforce. “We are aware of the problem and will start cleaning the tanks shortly,” Horo said, adding that power pangs were also responsible for erratic water supply.

“The filtration plant pump can function only when there is electricity. If power is available for only 12 to 17 hours, the filtration plant can release water only during that period,” Horo explained. He hoped that the water crisis would end once Jusco commissioned the new drinking water project by this year-end.

Meanwhile, local residents also vented their ire over water tax. “The rate was hiked from Rs 20 to Rs 200 in 2006. We are expected to pay Rs 200 for dirty water every month and that too when the civic body doesn’t send bills home on time,” rued Arjun Singh, a resident of Dimna Road in Mango.

Mango Notified Area Committee special officer Neeraj Srivastava too said that they did not have adequate manpower to send bills to every household. “We have only eight employees, while the requirement is of 40. If residents come to our office, we provide them with bills and inform them of dues,” he added.