Water safe to drink despite superbug: DJB

Last Updated: Thursday, April 7, 2011 - 21:07

New Delhi: The Delhi Jal Board on Thursday
dispelled concerns following reports of presence of drug-
resistant bacteria in the capital`s tap water and said the
water being supplied by the agency was "safe" for drinking.

"We want to assure that Delhi water is safe for
drinking," DJB CEO Ramesh Negi told reporters and claimed that
the water supplied by the agency conforms to the standards
prescribed by Bureau of Indian Standards.

International medical journal `Lancet` reported that
deadly superbug NDM-1 (New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1)
producing bacteria were found in 51 out of 171 samples taken
from water pools and two out of 50 water samples in the city.

Both the NDM-1 positive samples were from Ramesh Nagar,
west of the Yamuna River, "but the report itself states that
the strain cannot grow in tap water as it is chlorinated,"
Negi said.

"Finding the strain and spreading of the strain is two
different things," the CEO argued and cited a comment of Mohd
Shahid, a microbiologist at Aligarh Muslim University, in the
Lancet`s report, saying "There is little chance that NDM-1
will spread as the plasmids are not stable in tap water."

When asked about the reports of presence of
drug-resistant bacteria in water, Chief Minister Sheila
Dikshit said she has sought detailed reports about it from DJB
and Health Department.

"It (drug-resistant bacteria) has been found in water in
some areas around Lal Quilla. I have sought detailed reports
about it," she said.

Health Minister AK Walia, when asked about it, said he
will comment only after getting all the reports.

Negi said the DJB supplies drinking water only after
finding it fit in the BIS tests. "The NDM-1 is a coliform
bacteria and BIS limits the presence of coliform to 10 per 100
ml of supply water. Its presence in our supply is much lesser
than permissible limit."

He said there is also an independent check up of DJB
water by National Environmental Engineering Research
Institute, which in its 2006-2010 reports said the supply
drinking water was fit for use.

Negi, however, said the DSB will apply "chlorine
measure" to fight its presence in tap water and said it will
also change supply pipes to fight mixing of sewer water and
supply water.

The official also suggested that people should boil water
before drinking as a precautionary measure.

However, Negi accepted that BIS tests cannot detect
NDM-1.

"It is a mutation of coliform. BIS (tests) detect only
coliform and do not handle gene mutation. Now, detecting
mutation is in domain of health department and Government of
India. We are in contact with them."

On MCD raising questions over the quality of supply
water, the DJB CEO said they have written two letters to the
body inviting them for joint sampling and testing of water.

The DJB is also planning to change supply pipes in houses
and said though it is a responsibility of house owners, the
Board will provide new fittings at subsidised rate. Negi said
the process will in 15-20 days.

PTI

First Published: Thursday, April 7, 2011 - 21:07
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