Hearing a PIL over outbreak of jaundice in Chhattisgarh in 2014, a division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice P Sam Koshy yesterday asked the state government and Public Health Engineering (PHE) department to direct all municipal corporations to conduct test of the drinking water supplied through pipelines at three different levels, petitioner's lawyer Rajni Soren said.
The court also asked the authorities to submit a report of the screening of drinking water by November 15, and posted the matter for next hearing on December 7, she said. The PIL was filed by Mukesh Kumar Dewangan of Raipur, whose 26-year-old pregnant wife, Babita, died of Hepatitis-E on April 26, 2014.
In 2014, as per government records, over 20 people had died and several others were hospitalised for Hepatitis-E, caused due to consumption of contaminated water in Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur and other parts of the state, Soren said.
The state government had then admitted that break down in sewerage system and water pipelines had led to contamination of drinking water, she said. Following the outbreak, Dewangan had filed the PIL and made Raipur and Durg municipal corporations respondents, she said.
Dewangan, in his petition, had sought investigation into the lapses that led to the outbreak of the epidemic and recommendations for changes in the water supply and sewage infrastructure in the affected areas, she said.
The petition also sought disciplinary action against the officials, besides compensation to the affected people of the epidemic, the counsel said. During the hearing yesterday, the high court bench expanded the purview of the case and asked the state government and PHE to direct all municipal corporations to carry out tests of the drinking water.
As per the directive, the screening will be done at three levels, including at the source of drinking water before being supplied to the treatment plant, at water tanks after treatment and finally the drinking water supplied in houses.
This examination will be done next month and a report will be submitted to the court by November 15 in line with the HC's direction, she said.
The HC also said that any citizen, organisation or institutions can get the drinking water tested by any authorised labs at their own level and present that report before the court, Soren added.