CHINIOT: The number of cholera cases in district headquarters (DHQ) and other public hospitals in Chiniot has seen a significant rise in the past month.

During May alone, the DHQ hospital treated approximately 100 to 200 cholera patients daily, with a majority of them being children under the age of 10.

As the largest primary and secondary healthcare facility in Chiniot, the hospital receives nearly 2,000 patients every day in the outpatient department, in addition to indoor patients.

The surge in cholera cases prompted the district administration to conduct a study on the quality of underground water and the status of water filtration plants, specifically those using reverse osmosis (RO) technology and operated by municipal committees.

The study revealed that the underground water in Chiniot has been contaminated with dissolved solids and bacteria, which are the main causes of cholera and other waterborne diseases.

Water Testing Laboratory junior research officer Irshad Ahmad said that the recent study found high levels of dissolved solids, ranging from 800 to 2,000, surpassing the minimum acceptable limit of 500 and the minimum permissible limit of up to 1,000 set by the World Health Organisation. Moreover, bacteriological contamination was found in various areas, contributing to waterborne diseases. The study recommended that citizens use filtered water for drinking purposes by installing RO filter plants at their homes or fetching water from municipal RO plants.

Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Asif Raza sought a survey report from the health department and municipal services regarding the status of RO plants operated by local government agencies.

The report revealed that there are 27 filtration plants in the district meant to provide clean drinking water to the public, which is insufficient for a population of approximately two million.

Furthermore, water samples taken from these RO plants indicated that many samples were “unfit” for drinking, as the filters and membranes had not been replaced for a long time.

Many of the plants had stolen taps and some were closed, requiring machinery and equipment repairs. The condition of the building structures of these RO plants was also poor, with broken tiles, floors, and plaster.

Local industrialist and rice exporter Chaudhry Masood Iqbal rehabilitated 27 RO plants functional in Chiniot. Additionally, two new RO plants were installed in collaboration with philanthropists and the community at Chak 127-JB, Bhatti Wala, and Chak 131-JB, Loonay Wala.

DC Raza said 29 RO plants were now providing clean drinking water to around 100,000 people every day. However, the contamination of underground water necessitates the establishment of more such outlets throughout Chiniot. Efforts are underway to collaborate with the private sector, philanthropists, organisations, and NGOs to install additional water points in the district.

The goal is to install 71 new plants, bringing the total number of RO plants in Chiniot to 100. Village committees will be formed to ensure their ownership, maintenance, and payment of electricity bills, ensuring the sustainability of these RO plants.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2023

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