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Indian Health Ministry investigating superbug presence in Delhi water

April 13, 2011 - New Delhi

With the controversy surrounding the presence of deadly superbug bacteria NDM-1 (New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1) in the water being supplied to the residents of the national capital gaining momentum, Union Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid on Wednesday said the Health Ministry is investigating the matter, and added that it is yet to be taken up by the cabinet.

"This is not something that has come to some inter-ministerial group, certainly not something that's reached the cabinet yet. But the Health Minister would be looking after it. He would be able to brief you properly," Khurshid told reporters here.

"In regards to water supply and the quality of water, we have a department for drinking department separately. We can only assure to how much of volume of water is required. But detecting the quality of water is looked upon by the Environment Ministry and Drinking Water Department. We will definitely cooperate if asked for," he added.

The Minister, who spoke on charting out a new 'National Water Policy' at an international conference on 'Blue revolution: Charting South Asia's Water Future', said the review of the National Water Policy of 2002 is in process, while the new policy would address the issues of water scarcity, management and conservation.

"We are working very hard on the new water policy. The mission document is already out, as I said on April 6, we have approved it. Mission document is a stepping-stone of the water policy," said Khurshid.

The Health Ministry convened its first emergency meeting at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Tuesday over the alleged presence of the 'superbug' in Delhi's water supply system.

Officials from the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and the city's top microbiologists attended the meeting held under the aegis of the Director General of Health and Services (DGHS).

Meanwhile, the Delhi Government has appealed to the people of the city not to panic over reports that the drug resistant bacteria was found in the public water supply of the national capital.

International health journal 'The Lancet' had reportedly alleged the presence of a drug-resistant superbug in water supply in the national capital.

British scientists had recently claimed that the NDM-1 gene makes bacteria highly resistant to all-known Antibiotics, including Carbapenems.

British doctors have accused the Indian Government of suppressing the truth about presence of drug-resistant bacteria, NDM-1, and alleged that India is threatening its own doctors against taking part in superbug studies.


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