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Sunday, December 17, 2000

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Leaking pipeline wreaks havoc

By V. N. Harinath

HYDERABAD, DEC. 16. Did you ever see stinking morsels of `dal' and `rice' gushing out of your water tap? Have three full days passed by since you had your last bath? Does your water supply release disgusting odour?

If you have experienced all these, than you must surely be a resident of the lane that leads to the Venkateswara Swamy temple in Chikkadpally.

Water, that elixir of life, has turned repugnant in this part of the city during the past four months so much that the dew fresh mornings are dreaded like the plague. One wonders, if the divinity staying in the neighbourhood has the same water connection too?

"This is simply unbearable, one beyond words. We feel like leaving the city itself. Imagine waking up every morning with the odour hitting your nostrils," rues Mr. Vishwas Totla of Sarvodaya Colony, Chikkadpally. His outburst of anguish says it all.

Residents launch a diatribe against the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) for the `smelly supply' of water to over 50 houses in the colony, as also 10 to 20 houses in the Venkateswara temple line. Some dwellings in the adjoining Suryanagar area have also been getting contaminated water. "We have no other go but to use the nearby borewell," he says.

A housewife was aghast to see "dal, chaval" in the water, mostly after 6 a.m. "It becomes unbearable even to collect it, leave alone using it," she shudders. The supply is relatively better in the first hour of the supply.

Mr. Ravinder, a Congress-I activist, is furious with the inaction of the HMWSSB officials who, he grumbles, promise to check the pipes and send men to get them repaired. But, the work seems to be on for days now.

Several bachelor tenants of Mr. Vishwas had to skip their bath on Saturday as they could not stand the "terrible smell. When we don't feel like using the stinkinig water for bath, how can it be consumed," they ask. "The very thought is repulsive," one young man cringes.

There have been complaints of people getting afflicted with stomach-related problems after drinking the polluted water. There have been innumerable cases of the residents getting treated at the nearby Institute of Tropical Diseases.

One Mr. Reddy likens the tap water reaching their houses as "worse than what was flowing in an unclean nala". He suspects a leak in the water pipeline to be the culprit.

Vexed with the problem that has been persisting since the past four months and with repeated pleas falling on deaf ears, more seriously during this week, Mr. Balaprasad, father of Mr. Vishwas, who is a retired Deputy Director of Agriculture, dashed off a letter to the HMWSSB managing director, complaining about "supply of water that is getting mixed with drainage and full of stinking smell".

After this complaint, the HMWSSB authorities sent a water tanker on Saturday morning bringing the much-needed relief to the residents. Besides, Mr.Ramesh, Assistant Engineer, Bagh Lingampally zone, visited some of the houses in the morning to apprise himself of the situation.

He told The Hindu that the repair work to locate the disjoined water pipeline -- thanks to which sewerage passing through storm water drain is getting mixed with drinking water -- was on. It would take two or three more days to locate it. "The delay is due to the pipelines being underground."

Mr. Ramesh blames the illegal connections for the problem of drinking water getting contaminated. Often these lines are not properly repaired and cause hardship, both to the residents and the board staff.

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