Contaminated water did them in

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The outbreak of diarrhoea and massive influx of patients at city hospitals on Saturday has exposed the vulnerability of city’s drinking water network.

Though officials of Chennai Metro Water denied any contamination in the water they supplied, peeved residents like Immanuel of Boopathy Nagar in Chetpet, from where most of the patients admitted to KMC hailed, asserted that the water they collected from Metro Water tap was grey and had the stink of sewage.

Arguing that they have been suffering for four months now, another resident Kesavan of neighbouring Ossankulam said, “It is not always grey. If we collect water between 1am and 6pm, when the pressure is high, it will be good. But hours later, water collected from the same tap will be grey and stinks.”

“When we complained, Metro Water officials blamed Chennai Metro Rail and said the digging for metro rail fractures drinking water lines and contaminate the supply,” he added.

Residents also complained that engineers arrived and tested the water only after the situation snowballed into a near epidemic outbreak on Saturday. Engineers of Metro Water were forced to start their day as early at 6am after scores of peoples were rushed to KMC and Tondiarpet communicable diseases hospital with diarrhea symptoms.

Senior officials claimed that tests conducted on samples collected from Chetpet proved that the water supplied there was potable and the residual chlorine level was well within the prescribed 0.04 to 0.08 ppm.

However, a few engineers conceded that the people could have been affected due to consumption of ‘residual’ water collected from taps during non-supply hours.

“Quantum of water available is low and so is the pressure. And hence, supply during such times could bring sediments out,” a senior metro official revealed admitting to huge deposit of sediments in the pipelines. In fact, metro engineers have advised people to avoid collecting water during non-supply hours.

Following Saturday’s crisis, the managing director of Metro Water is earnt to have advised all field engineers to inspect the areas at 6 am and report to him about the water quality hours later.

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