The Aligarh district of Uttar Pradesh has witnessed a tragedy with an all-too-common cause: contaminated water.
After drinking polluted water from a pump at their school, 53 children were hospitalised and two died as a consequence. “It’s possible that rain water contaminated the surface water,” said district magistrate C. B. Singh. The children developed symptoms including nausea shortly after they drank the water.
“Teams of doctors have been sent to the affected village and they are closely monitoring the situation. Epidemiologist and other specialists have also been made available there,” said district medical officer Dr M. L. Agarwal. He added that samples of the water had been sent for testing to uncover the cause of the contamination. Fortunately, Agarwal has said, the hospitalised children are said to be in stable condition. A further 26 individuals have visited the local outpatient department with similar complaints to the affected children.
This is not the first time contaminated water has been in the spotlight in Uttar Pradesh. Amidst water scarcity, residents of the state’s Budh Vihar Colony have reportedly been forced to resort to drinking polluted water sent to them by their Municipal Corporation. The water is reportedly yellow in colour. Meanwhile, a BJP MP complained earlier this month that contaminated water was leading to health issues facing his constituents, including bone disease and oral health problems.
Nationwide, contaminated water is a severe issue. Seventy percent of drinking water in India is contaminated. Water-borne diseases are commonplace in the country; every year, it is believed that such conditions affect approximately 37.5 million Indians. One person dies every four hours as a result of contaminated water.
It is clear, as the tragedy in the Aligarh district shows, that contaminated water is a major public health issue which requires addressing. Given the sheer prevalence of contaminants in India’s drinking water supply, a concentrated effort is needed to avert the occurrence of such tragedies in future.