Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari on Wednesday wrote to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, saying that people were “deeply scared” of the city’s drinking water, which a Bureau of Indian Standards study found to be the most unsafe among 21 major Indian cities. Kejriwal had on Monday called the study “false and politically motivated”.

“Uncontrolled panic has set in Delhi, people are terrified of drinking the water you are supplying,” Tiwari wrote in his letter. He claimed residents had contacted him and expressed concerns about their families’ safety. Tiwari said people from many parts of the city had reported that their tap water had a bad odour and it was difficult to “differentiate between the smell of sewage and water”.

Tiwari said that no matter what kind of politics was practised, the lives of children and the elderly should not be played with.

On Wednesday, the Delhi government nominated Jal Board Vice Chairman Dinesh Mohaniya and Board member Shalabh Kumar for a joint sampling and testing of water in the city along with a team of BIS officials. On the other hand, Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who had released the report on Saturday, picked BIS Director General Pramod Kumar Tiwari and its Deputy Director General Jayant Kumar Chaudhary to conduct the tests.

Tiwari said he would accompany the officials as the legislator from North East Delhi, and asked Kejriwal to announce the date and time for water sampling. The BJP leader said that to ensure fairness, the samples and results should be analysed by a group of two to three “neutral experts”.

On Tuesday, the Kejriwal-led administration said it would form 32 teams to collate samples from all over the city and the results will be made public within a month. The chief minister had also accused the Opposition and the Union minister of scaring people with their claims that water in Delhi was poisonous.

The report released by Paswan on Saturday had noted that water samples from Delhi failed in 19 out of 28 parameters. In 13 state capitals – Chandigarh, Thiruvananthapuram, Patna, Bhopal, Guwahati, Bengaluru, Gandhinagar, Lucknow, Jammu, Jaipur, Dehradun, Chennai and Kolkata – all tested samples failed to meet the BIS norms for piped drinking water. Mumbai was the only city where all 10 samples collected had complied with the standards.

Concerns about the water and air quality in the national Capital have turned political in the recent past with the Assembly elections slated for early next year.

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