A highly inconclusive BIS report on the purity of drinking water has culminated into a toxic blame game being played by opposition leaders and created mass hysteria and panic among Delhi’s residents.
Politicians are known to be opportune. And the latest incident of politically motivated mudslinging by the opposition is causing hysteria in India’s capital.
While Delhi Jal Board, Municipal Corporation and even BJP’s own Jal Shakti Minister have stated that Delhi’s water is fit to drink, a loose, open-ended, preliminary and almost speculative BIS report opines otherwise.
Furthermore, some of the leading names in Congress and BJP have targeted AAP’s Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, accusing him of providing ‘poisonous water’ to Delhi’s resident.
This article analyses the BIS report, the discrepancies in Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s observation and the toxic game that state leaders of BJP and Congress, Manoj Tiwari and Subhash Chopra are playing with Delhiites.
The Blame Game and Fake News fuelled Hysteria
The recent BIS report released by Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan stated that drinking water in Delhi failed on all the parameters of BIS testing. Soon after the report that based its observation that Delhi’s water is unsafe for drinking on just 11 test samples, opposition leaders from both BJP and Congress took to blaming Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asking for his resignation.
Posters emerged across the city slamming the AAP government for forcing people to drink “poisonous” water. Union Health Minister, Member of Parliament from Delhi and BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate for the state in 2014 posted photograph of one such poster saying “Arvind Kejriwal is giving poison to the people of Delhi in the name of free water supply. Delhi water was found to be the most poisonous in a survey of 20 cities. The AAP government is making tall claims of development but has failed to even provide safe drinking water to the people.”
BJP’s state president in Delhi Manoj Tiwari launched a mudslinging campaign blaming CM Kejriwal for the poor air and water quality in Delhi. Tiwari launched a campaign with the hashtag #DillikaPaaniZahrila. BJP party workers are staging protests across the city.
Similarly, Congress Delhi president Subhash Chopra, along with senior leaders Jai Prakash Agarwal, Arvinder Singh Lovely, Mukesh Sharma, and Shoaib Iqbal, launched his own mudslinging campaign demanding that a criminal case be registered against CM Kejriwal for “playing” with the lives of the people in Delhi. Thousands of Congress party workers took to streets and raised slogans like ‘Dilli Ki Dukhad Kahani-DushitVaayu, Ganda Paani’ and ‘Ye Kaisi Rajdhani Hai-Peene KO Ganda Paani Hai’. Congress didn’t stop at AAP but also took up the opportunity to slam BJP calling it “equally responsible” for the alleged water crisis.
Why the BIS report is purely speculative and not an accurate observation?
The BIS report is inconclusive and purely speculative due to the vast difference in the scale of testing. The World Health Organization states that for water testing in an urban city, there should be at least one sample per 10,000 population. So, with Delhi having a population of around 2.5 crores, a conclusive report should test around 2,500 samples. The BIS report is based on a mere 11 samples. This means a difference of 2,489 samples. Thus, a report based on only 0.004% of the required amount of testing is almost laughable.
Furthermore, the report has been rejected by the Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. After the report went public, Shekhawat said that Delhi’s water quality was better than European standards also taking a soft hit at his cabinet colleague Paswan. The Minister said, “This must be his (Paswan’s) personal opinion. A few months ago, we had checked water samples from 20 locations in Delhi. All were better than European standards.:”
The next denouncement came surprisingly from BJP’s own cadre. Delhi’s East, North, and South municipal corporations which are ruled by BJP rejected the BIS report saying that out of a total of 8,638 samples tested for contamination, only 25 failed. This means only 0.29 percent of samples failed the purity test. The sampling in MCD’s claim is 785 times more than what the BIS report contains.
Furthermore, from the 1,55,302 water samples picked up by the Delhi Jal Board between January to September 2019, only 1.5 percent failed the tests. This stands at 2,325 samples the were found impure. This itself is 211 times more samples than the total 11 samples in BIS, thereby proving how inefficient, undertested and hollow is the BIS report.
Delhi Government is up and about to establish the truth
A row erupted in the capital and the thought of consuming ‘poisonous water’ as claimed by BJP and Congress created hysteria in the population. CM Kejriwal said, “Its dirty politics, people are scared by the way Central ministers are saying Delhi water is poisonous.”
Consequently, the Delhi government is up and about, setting up 32 teams of 4 officials to collect 5 water samples from each ward and put a fresh and ‘more conclusive’ test in the public domain in a month’s time. This means a total of 1,400 samples which will be tested on the 29 parameters of BIS. If the BIS report on Delhi Water is to be considered, then this testing on 127 times more samples should be seen as 127 percent more conclusive.
CM Kejriwal has also requested Union Minister Paswan to nominate more people to these teams to ensure transparency and not leaving a gap for BJP to exploit by alleging foul play in the testing.
While the BJP and Congress are busy targeting Kejriwal and the AAP government, exaggerating the purely speculative (as proved) BIS report, their claims of poisonous drinking water are causing panic and scare among Delhiites.
Political mudslinging based on issues that have a big impact on public health can easily mold public opinion. Moreover, fake claims and misleading exaggeration can have dangerous effects on society. If Delhi’s water is fit for drinking maybe be debatable, the toxic brand of politics being practiced by the opposition is certainly not healthy for the capital.