Calcutta High Court on Friday directed the Calcutta and Howrah Municipal Corporations (CMC and HMC), the public health engineering department and the Eastern Railways to collect drinking water samples from different public places of the twin cities and get them tested by reputable examination centres. The court asked the authorities to submit the test reports within three weeks.
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice A. Banerjee, passed the order on the basis of a petition by environmentalist Subhas Dutta, who alleged that drinking water supplied in different public places was unfit for human consumption. He collected samples from several public spots in Calcutta and Howrah and got them examined by reputable examination centres. The reports showed that 70 per cent of the drinking water supplied in public places was contaminated.
Samples of contaminated water were collected from spots like NRS Medical College and Hospital, SSKM Hospital, RG Kar Medical College, Howrah General Hospital, Writers’ Buildings, the Calcutta Corporation headquarters, Sealdah station, Calcutta University and some of its affiliated colleges across the city.
After receiving the report a few months ago, the court asked the CMC to ensure the supply of pure drinking water in public places. CMC counsel Aloke Ghosh told the court during the day that the civic body was supplying pure water to public places. “But water gets contaminated in some places because of poor maintenance of old and dilapidated reservoirs,” he said
Ghosh pleaded that CMC officials did not have access to some reservoirs that stored contaminated water. A CMC act does not empower the civic body to enter public places to check the reservoirs. “So, it becomes difficult to carry out regular checks of reservoirs in public places,” he added.
Early this year, the court passed an order empowering CMC officials to enter public places to check reservoirs. On Friday, the CMC counsel told the court that civic officials had already visited nearly 60 public places and collected water samples from there.