New Delhi/Shimla, Feb 21 (IANS) Expressing concern over the large-scale outbreak of jaundice in the Himachal Pradesh capital, union Health and Family Welfare Minister J.P. Nadda on Sunday sanctioned funds to conduct study to prevent recurrence of the water-borne disease.
Asking the state to take necessary steps to handle the situation, Nadda said Rs.70 lakh has been sanctioned by the health ministry to the Indian Council of Medical Research to conduct a study so that recurrence of this situation can be avoided.
"We are monitoring the situation closely and have already offered all assistance to the state government. I urge the state government to take all necessary steps by improving sanitation and checking supply of contaminated water," Nadda said in a statement.
More than 1,500 cases of jaundice have been reported so far in Shimla and 11 people lost their lives due to the water-borne disease.
Most of the jaundice cases have been reported from Chhota Shimla, Panthaghati, Vikas Nagar, New Shimla and Kasumpti, a health officer said.
In 2007, 2010 and 2013, a large number people in the town tested positive for Hepatitis E, a liver problem caused by consumption of water contaminated by sewerage.
The minister, who belongs to Himachal Pradesh, said a team of the National Centre for Disease Control last month visited affected-areas to assess the situation and give expert advice to the state government on how to handle the situation.
The team advised that the sanitation and cleanliness in affected areas need to be improved and contamination of water needs to be checked.
The civic authorities suspect that mixing of sewage with potable water has caused the spread of the water-borne disease.
Deputy Mayor Tikender Panwar told IANS that effluents from the sewerage treatment plant in Malyana, located in the vicinity of the Ashwani Khud drinking water scheme, was mainly responsible for water contamination.
The Ashwani Khud drinking water scheme supplies water to a third of Shimla's population.
Panwar said the government-run treatment plant uses an outdated technology for reusing the water.
Planned for a maximum population of 16,000, Shimla is currently home to 170,000 people as per the 2011 census and generates 30.09 million litres of sewage every day.