Out of the wells sampled, only one was free from faecal contamination.

Throwing light on the continuing apathy of authorities concerned, an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study conducted seven years back had revealed that majority of wells in the stretch between Aluva and Tripunithura are polluted exposing people who depend on water sourced from these wells by tanker lorries to water-borne diseases.

The EIA study conducted by the School of Environmental Studies of Cusat in collaboration with the School of Engineering for the State government as part of the Kochi Metro Rail project had randomly sampled water from wells in Aluva, Kalamassery, Edappally, Palarivattom, Ernakulam north and south, Vytilla, and Tripunithura. Of these eight centres, Aluva, Kalamassery, and Edappally are among the major locations from which tanker lorries source water for distribution in flats and residential colonies across the district.

The study found that the overall bacteriological quality of the ground water was very poor.

Out of the 16 wells selected for sampling, only one confirmed with the standards set by the Indian Council of Medical Research stipulating that coliform presence in drinking water should not exceed 10 per 100 ml.

More shocking was the finding that only one of these wells was free from faecal contamination.

While the septic tank nearest to this well in Tripunithura was at a distance of 25 ft with the overflow directed to the municipal sewerage system, the rest of the wells had septic tanks at a distance of 15 to 60 ft with the overflow directed to sock pits.

Septic tanks

The study attributed the probable contamination of wells to multiple factors including infiltration owing to overflow from septic tanks and open dumping of solid waste including hospital waste.

“Wells and rivers from where the drinking water is collected should be identified and steps should be taken to ensure the quality of the water supplied. Pumping water from places experiencing acute water shortage should be prevented,” said C.M. Joy, general secretary of the All Kerala River Protection Council.

He also recommended issue of certificates to tanker lorries supplying quality water.

‘Black sheep'

Meanwhile, members of tanker lorry operators in the district confessed that there are black sheep among them who bring bad name to all of them by sourcing stale water even from stone quarries.

Interestingly, the Pollution Control Board (PCB) authorities said that they had nothing to do about the supply of polluted water by tanker lorries. It is beyond their authority since drinking water is involved, PCB sources said.

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