Petition seeking court direction on Hepatitis-E epidemic in several Chhattisgarh districts
Mukesh Kumar Dewangan Vs. State of Chhattisgarh & Others, PIL no.30/2014 This public interest litigation has been filed by a man who lost his 26-year-old wife after she was infected with the Hepatitis-E virus after consuming contaminated water. He had spent approximately Rs 3.5 lakhs on his wife’s treatment , miscellaneous and funeral expenses, and was now left behind with a 4-year-old son. His petition raised issues relating to potable water deficiencies and pollution in drinking water provided by the state government through its department. With the passage of time, sewerage and water supply lines in some places seem to have developed wear and tear leading to the mixing of the waters in them. The petition noted deficiency in the maintenance of sewerage lines. Because of this, a Hepatitis-E epidemic has broken out in certain areas in Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur, and Jnajgir districts of Chhattisgarh and about 50 people have died due to it. Thousands more have been infected and continue to battle the deadly disease. Hepatitis-E is a disease caused by the hepatitis- E virus, which spreads through the fecal oral route. It is the absolute breakdown of the sewage and water supply system in the state of Chhattisgarh that has led to the spread of the epidemic and caused such large human loss and damage. Status The State of Chhattisgarh's department of Public Health & Engineering (for short 'the PHE') provides the basic infrastructure to ensure distribution of clean potable water to the citizens. Thereafter, in the Municipal areas, the Municipal Corporation/Council takes control of distribution of the water. A direction was given to the Principal Secretary, PHE, Government of Chhattisgarh, to file an affidavit before this Court within a period of eight weeks. In the affidavit, it shall be clearly stated as to which of the Municipal Corporation/Council have water treatment plants to ensure that water is properly treated. It shall also be stated as to who is maintaining those water treatment plants and who is the authority to ensure that the water treatment plant is functioning properly. In the affidavit, it shall also be clearly mentioned as to whether the water is tested before it enters the water treatment plant and whether it is tested after treatment is done in the plant. The frequency of such tests shall also be clearly mentioned in the aforesaid table. Thereafter, the Principal Secretary, PHE shall also give information as to whether the testing is being done on regular or random basis at the level of end user to ensure that the end user gets clean potable water. It was also directed to all the Municipal Corporations/Councils in the State of Chhattisgarh to ensure that with effect from 1st of October, 2016, water is regularly tested. The inward supply of every water treatment plant shall be tested twice a day and similarly, the water after treatment shall be tested at least twice a day. It was also directed that the Municipal Corporation/Council shall ensure that water from at least one house/public tap in different localities is tested every day in the month of October, 2016 and the Municipal Corporation/Council shall give details of the said tests done in a tabular form latest by 15th of November, 2016. The court also directed that wide publicity be given to this order and if any concerned citizen or organisation wants to get these tests done through an accredited laboratory, the same can be got done from it and any such citizen or organization can approach this court with the results of such tests.