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Goa’s water treatment plants must supply clean and safe water to people

The residents of Porvorim have been getting muddy water from their taps for days, and they are going to get no better water for some more days. The Porvorim residents have been finding it difficult to purify the water despite the best of their efforts. It is not just residents of Porvorim. People in many parts of the state have complained of getting muddy water through their taps too. It is not this year; muddy water from the pipelines is becoming a regular affliction. Absence of an alternative has forced people to use muddy water for their daily needs, which makes them vulnerable to diseases. Even though the problem has been recurrent the public works department has not taken it up seriously, putting the health of the people at risk. The issue of supply of muddy water was raised in the recently concluded Assembly session by three legislators from Bardez. The state government’s answer was highly unsatisfactory: there was nothing but hollow assurance that the problem would be addressed soon. The public works department has tried to put the blame on excessive rainfall. The justification given was that the sludge washed downstream was making water purification difficult. However, the fact is that the problem existed even when rainfall was below normal.

Though complaints about muddy water are from several parts of Goa, the most affected currently are those of the Bardez taluka that includes Porvorim. Bardez is supplied water from the water treatment plant at Assonora. Despite knowing the fact that the Assonora plant was not equipped to treat muddy water the public works department authorities have paid no attention over the years to solve the problem. Thanks to their indifference, the people of Bardez will have to continue to use muddy water till the turbidity in water recedes or till the faults in the Assonora water treatment plants are rectified. The PWD has also blamed release of water from the Tillari dam also for the muddy water. But the truth is the problem has been continuing for more than a month. Rather than finding scapegoats the PWD authorities should try to replace the age-old system for water treatment and purification with the latest technology as soon as possible.

PWD Minister Deepak Pauskar admits that the Assonora water treatment plant was not equipped to treat muddy water during monsoons. This admission is proof that the government has compromised on the health of people by supplying water from the plant all these years. People have a right to life, and this right includes their right to demand clean and safe water from the government to whom they pay taxes. Consumption of contaminated water can lead to health-related problems like vomiting or diarrhoea, nausea, dehydration, skin rashes and stomach ailments. Contaminated water can also cause cancer if it is consumed over a long period of time. Goans in many parts have been compelled to use muddy water. Who will compensate for the illnesses caused by dirty water? Who will pay for the man-days lost? Who will pay for the medical expenses incurred by the people?

The government has no excuse for not investing in new technologies for treatment and purification of water at the Assonora and other plants. This money has to be found by the government on priority. The government has a responsibility to provide clean and safe water to people. The PWD must carry out an audit of all water treatment plants and provide them with new technologies. There are many technologies available and the government must opt for the best one according to its budget. But it should not go for poor technology merely because it is available cheap. There should be no compromise as far as health of the people is concerned. PWD Minister Deepak Pauskar must not stop at explanations and lamentations. He must get the top technical executives of his department to make a study of the issues at the various water treatment and purification plants in order to assess what is to be done in order to make them capable for supplying clean water. The Minister has spoken of supplying water 24×7, but he should first guarantee the water is safe.

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