Allegations that cancer deaths were due to water quality

The Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) has given a clean chit to the water quality at Onchiyam panchayat here.

The quality of water in the panchayat had come under the scanner following doubts raised by local MLA C.K. Nanu at the Kozhikode District Development Committee that there were cancer deaths in the panchayat, and comprehensive tests should be done to check the water quality there.

Following detailed investigations, the CWRDM has now denied any presence of heavy metal contamination in the drinking water supplied to the panchayat. A report was submitted to the District Development Committee on Saturday.

The report says that compared to the 85 per cent bacteria contamination found in water supplied in the Kozhikode Corporation limits, water in Onchiyam has only 75 per cent bacteria contamination.

“There is no need to spread any panic over the water quality in Onchiyam. Our extensive tests show that bacteria contamination in Onchiyam is relatively less or the same as that of neighbouring panchayats. There is no cause for alarm,” Dr. V.P. Dinesan, senior scientist with CWRDM who led the investigation told The Hindu on Sunday.

“There is comparatively less PH content and presence of iron and nitrate in the water, which is usual in the case of coastal areas. The amount of contamination in the Onchiyam wells can be dealt with home remedies like putting bleaching powder in the wells and boiling drinking water,” he said.

Referring to the MLA’s apprehensions linking reported cases of cancer deaths in the panchayat to the drinking water quality, Mr. Dinesan said there is no detectable presence of heavy metals like lead or manganese, pesticides and fluoride in the potable water supplied to households in the panchayat.

In an earlier meeting of the development committee, the CWRDM had raised alarm bells over the deteriorating quality of water in the district, saying there were hardly 15 wells that contained water pure enough for human consumption.

The centre had also voiced general concern over the presence of pollutants way beyond the permissible levels in water sources in the district.

When contacted, Mr. Nanu had said he had voiced apprehensions about the water quality in Onchiyam on the feedback he had received from the public.

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