By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, Apr 15: Water flowing from the taps in Mcleod Ganj is not safe to drink, The Tribune noted in a report published today.
“The damaged water pipes supplying drinking water in Mcleod Ganj and the leaking septic tanks are to blame,” the report quoted Cynthia Travis, a hydro geologist from the US as saying.
“The water flowing from the tap in McLeodganj is contaminated with bacteria such as serratia marcescens which causes urinary tract infections, pseudomonas aeruginosa , pneumonia and E-coli which causes diarrhoea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia,” Cynthia claimed based on the tests she had conducted on the water being supplied to McLeodganj.
She said the health of the local people, Tibetans and the tourists are at grave risk as contaminated water gets into the drinking water system through leaky water pipes and it is being supplied to the hotels and homes.
“The water in McLeod Ganj needs to be treated prior to consumption. A system that works quite well in Thailand could be used here. In Thailand, they provide safe drinking water to everyone through reverse osmosis (RO) vending machines. These machines are placed on street corners so access is provided to the public. For a small fee, clean water is provided. I recommend the state water department to contact an agency in Thailand to determine the pros and cons of that system,” Cynthia said and further suggested to install RO filtration systems in critical areas such as schools, hospitals, and monasteries.
“LHA Charitable Trust, (A local NGO) had been installing filtration systems in schools and high public use areas. They had installed over 50 filters. They not only installed filter systems, but also maintained them,” she noted.
Similarly, many Tibetan cafes and restaurants offer filtered clean water for a small fee.
Although there is plenty of ground and surface water in the area, according to Cynthia, randomly placed water pipes, broken distribution system and poor planning are to be blamed for the constant water shortage in the area in summer.
Cynthia Travis has been staying at McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala for the past five years to study Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and Tibetan language.