Polluted water, overflowing sewage torment Bhopal gas tragedy survivors

Funds set aside under a 2010 action plan for resolving sanitation and drinking water issues were allegedly misappropriated by the State’s rehabilitation wing
It’s 2 a.m., and the stench of sewage wafts in through the only window of Aziza Jawahar’s crumbling house. Taking the cue that she is now long attuned to, she springs up from bed, dashes out to wake up her neighbours, Geetabai Sen, Hanifa Bi and Reshma, grabs a plastic hose and plops it into a 300-litre drum to fill water. Every alternate day, women in most of the 2,486 houses in the Jeevan Jyoti Colony — a society built in the 1990s to socially rehabilitate the kin of the Bhopal gas tragedy victims — follow a similar routine with no decided hour or fixed duration, barely managing to stock drinking water supplied by the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC). But now, an overlooked and unfinished sewage network has added to the problems in an area already beset by decrepit houses and bumpy roads. Broken pipes, choked sewage chambers and scum gurgling over dug-out drains form the network that runs alongside drinking water pipelines. With no alternative sources, residents are forced to drink toxic, contaminated water. In the summer, however, when the water supply gets patchy, residents rely on individually owned tubewells in adjoining private colonies for drinking water. “We get a 15-litre can for Rs. 2. We get some help and they get some money. It’s a win-win situation,” Ms. Reshma says. In June 2010, a Central Group of Ministers, comprising Kamal Nath, the then Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, approved an action plan of Rs. 272.75 crore on a 75:25 basis for completing the remaining rehabilitation process. Of the sanctioned amount, Rs. 85.2 crore was allocated for social rehabilitation under which sewage got Rs. 4.92 crore and Rs. 50 crore was set aside for providing safe drinking water.
Funds misappropriated
Minutes of a review meeting with the Central Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals in February 2017 reveal that the State had informed the Centre that the “upgradation of sewage system in existing gas victims’ colony” had been completed at a cost of Rs. 4.92 crore. However, in a utilisation certificate, it said only Rs. 2.06 crore had been utilised and the remaining amount would be transferred to the BMC for the “execution of balance work”. Though the State did not specify whether the work was completed using the Centre’s share of funds or the State’s, K.K. Dubey, Deputy Secretary in the department, says, “The State government had utilised the Centre’s share of funds and informed it (the Centre) about it. There were no discrepancies in the report. As for the State’s funds, they are still being utilised and work is under progress. We don’t monitor work assigned to the BMC. We are only responsible for the allocation of funds. Yet, we’ve urged them several times to complete it.”
Residents’ claims denied
Denying the claims that polluted water was being supplied to the colony, A.R. Pawar, BMC’s Chief Engineer for water supply says, “Narmada river’s water, which doesn’t need to be filtered, is being supplied to at least 90% of the houses in the colony. Yet, more work remains to be done.”

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/polluted-water-overflowing-sewage-torment-bhopal-gas-tragedy-survivors/article28432557.ece

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