Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan hit back at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today in an escalating war of words over the 'poor' quality of drinking water in the national capital. The feud between the two leaders was triggered by a BIS report that said tap water in Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata failed 10 of 11 parameters. Mr Paswan, who is the Consumer Affairs Minister, strongly denied Mr Kejriwal's claims the report was "false and politically motivated" and challenged the AAP chief to name officials to a joint team to re-test drinking water in the city state.
"You cannot drink tap water directly. At many places water comes in all sorts of colours, yellow, blue... name your officials for a team which will also have top BIS officials. Let them go to any area, pick samples and get them tested from any lab," the LJP chief said in parliament today.
"He is doing politics now," Mr Paswan added, claiming that no Delhi MLA (67 of whom belong to the AAP) would testify to good quality drinking water in their areas.
Friday's Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) report said that all 11 Delhi samples did not comply with the quality norms. It said piped water was also unsafe for drinking water.
On Sunday, posters were seen in parts of Delhi bashing the AAP government for forcing people to drink "poisonous" water. The brewing war over water quality in the national capital comes as the Kejriwal government faces attacks over the air pollution crisis and ahead of Assembly elections scheduled for next year.
A furious Arvind Kejriwal, who is also Chairman of the Delhi Jal Board, responded on Sunday and this morning, first claiming the report was "false and politically motivated" and then pointing out that a city's water quality could not be analysed with just 11 samples.
"A city's water quality cannot be judged on the basis of just 11 samples. Moreover, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan is not disclosing where the samples were taken from. I will take five samples from each ward of Delhi, get it checked and then put the data in public," he declared.
Responding to the Chief Minister's criticisms, Mr Paswan, who was speaking in Lok Sabha during Zero Hour, reminded the parliament that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked for the quality of potable water in the country to be guaranteed by 2024.
He dismissed allegations the report was politically motivated, stating: "I want to say with challenge that no Chief Minister can claim we have done politics on such a matter".
"We are not doing politics over water, we want to seek the support of Parliament on the issue. There should be no politics over the safe quality of drinking water," he added."
Arvind Kejriwal has also been targeted by the BJP, with Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari and former AAP member Shazia Illmi taking aim.
"@ArvindKejriwal ji, you are telling lies to the media. You can't escape responsibility by speaking lies to all. You have been exposed. You have ensured only dirty water in the last five years... #DilliKaPaniZehrila," Manoj Tiwari tweeted in Hindi.
"When you have been exposed, the report is untrue. AAP is adept in speaking lies and induling in dirty politics. Delhi needs clean water and clean politics. Till when will you force Delhi people to drink dirty water and make them sick?" Shazia Illmi wrote.
Testing of water samples was conducted to check organoleptic and physical parameters and know the chemical and toxic substances and bacteriological quality besides virological and biological parameters.
With input from PTI, ANI