After militancy, a health emergency looms large in Kashmir

Srinagar: The recent outbreak of gastroenteritis in Budgam, Kupwara and Bandipora districts has highlighted loopholes in supply of potable drinking water as 90 percent water samples collected from various villages in central Budgam district were found to be contaminated.

"Out of 11 samples that were collected from various areas in Budgam district from August 18 to August 24, only one showed satisfactory result", said the sources, adding the samples were collected from tap-water, reservouir-tank and Public Health Engineering (PHE) water tankers.

Sources informed that 2233 patients were hospitalized from August 18 to August 29 in Budgam followed by 227 cases detected in Kupwara and 57 cases in Bandipora. There have been sporadic cases of cholera, but they were yet to burst, say sources.

"Situation may prove alarming if not controlled", says Dr. Ghulam Nabi Khan, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Kupwara, adding "safe drinking water and hygienic way is the only solution".

Health experts believe that water bodies are continuously becoming polluted. "Garbage and polythene is dumped in water bodies. Consequently, water bodies have started drying up. Earlier, due to flowing rivers or nallahs such problems didn't creep in, but now these water bodies have become contaminated".

Experts opined that flash floods too have played a major role. "These floods wash down faeces of dog, human and other dirty things from land and contaminate water bodies.” They added that presence of latrine points on water bodies, contaminated water resources and population explosion are other reasons responsible for the outbreak of disease.