Water safe to drink despite superbug: DJB
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Last Updated: Thursday, April 07, 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 07, 2011, 21:07


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