SIALKOT-The District Health Authority and the Public Health Engineering Department declared the water being supplied by Municipal Corporation in Sialkot city as unhygienic and contaminated.

After conducting tests of the water, both the departments said the Sialkot Municipal Corporation was providing unhygienic water to the local people. According to officials of Municipal Corporation, it had already installed 96 water tube wells in various parts of Sialkot city for providing "potable" water for 39,274 domestic consumers and 2,269 commercial consumers in 24 urban union councils through 372km water supply lines.

The officials said that these underground water pipelines were about 60 years old and rusting from everywhere, broken and damaged.

Due to the critical situation, the underground sewerage water is also getting mixed with the drinking water being supplied to the citizens. The sanitation and water supply staff of Sialkot Municipal Corporation still remains unable to locate and repair the damages spots.

However, the Corporation officials admitted the underground water pipelines were damaged. The health officials revealed that the people of Sialkot city have rapidly become the victims of water-borne diseases (WBDs) due to the use of unhygienic drinking water. A large number of patients including women and children are being admitted to several government and private hospitals and clinics in Sialkot city.

The official sources in Sialkot health department confirmed that the number of the WBDs patients was rising day by day in the government and private hospitals and the situation now has become alarming. The citizens are in the grip of diseases due to the uncontrolled supply of contaminated water. A large number of patients could be seen at Govt Allama Iqbal Memorial Hospital and Govt Sardar Bagum Memorial Hospital.

The Environment Department has recently collected the samples of water chemical examination and a Lahore-based laboratory later declared all the samples as contaminated.

They said that the major cause behind the water contamination is underground junction of the rusted and broken pipelines and sewerage lines at various spots.

The officials of health, public health engineering and environment departments have again suggested that Sialkot Municipal Corporation install ultra modern water filtration plants in Sialkot city besides installing the chlorine machines along all the 96 tube wells for water purification.

Most of affected union councils in Sialkot city are Mianapura, Model Town, Muzaffarpura, Imam Sahib, Karimpura, Hajipura, Ghouspura, Naikapura, Muhammadpura, Shahabpura, Roras Road, Gulshan Town, Pakka Garha, Muhallah Chah Tarkhaana and Muhallah Kashmiriyaan.

The officials stated that the hundreds of thousands of people have been suffering from fatal stomach and belly diseases including hepatitis due to the prolonged use of unhygienic water while the women and children are rapidly becoming the victim of these diseases.

The officials directed the Municipal Corporation to immediately change the underground pipelines. They said that the 600 feet deep water boring system is also direly needed to ensure the provision of potable water.

The health officials have feared that gastro epidemic is also likely to be broken out in the residential areas. They further feared that gastro would soon be broken out if the Municipal Corporation did not take preventive measure.

When contacted, Deputy Mayor Bashir Ahmed said that the Municipal Corporation was well aware of the situation and its has chalked out a multi-phased programme for replacement of the decades old water supplying system in active collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Punjab government.