Post acquisition, questions raised on water testing agency’s credibility

People across nine cities of Odisha, who are being supplied with the water tested by the private entity Spectro Analytical Lab, have expressed serious concerns over the quality of water.

Bhubaneswar: With an aim to ensure pure drinking water, Odisha government in December 2016 signed a MoU with Spectro Analytical Lab to set up nine water testing labs in eight different places across the State including a state-level lab in Bhubaneswar. To check the purity of drinking water for 10 years, Spectro had then signed a deal worth Rs 67 crore with Odisha government. Later, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had inaugurated the laboratory on October 11, 2017.

As per the MoU, the company had to start work within six months after the inauguration but it started operations only on March 12, 2018.

However, in the meantime, on November 16, 2017, a multi-national firm Eurofins Scientific acquired Spectro Analytical which was in violation of the terms and conditions of its (Spectro) agreement with the State government.

Suprisingly, Spectro is still in operation in Odisha even after its acquisition raising questions on the legality of the MoU and the credibility of its water testing capabilities.

People across nine cities– Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Berhampur, Rourkela, Puri, Balasore, Sambalpur, Baripada and Bhadrak- who are being supplied with the water tested by the private entity have expressed serious concerns over the quality of water.

“We often face acute problem of contamination,” said Kailash Nayak, a resident of Bhubaneswar.

Sita Murmu of Balasore siad, “We are getting muddy water and it is having an adverse effect on our children’s health.”

On being appraised about the matter, the concerned engineer assured that an investigation will be done into the entire process of the firm.

S Laxmipathy, chief engineer of Public Health department, said all the details related to the agreement with the company will be looked into and action will be taken as per the norms.

On the other hand, Spectro’s project leader (Odisha-in-charge), Ajay Shankar Thakur said:

“Our contract with the Odisha government is intact and we are operating in the same manner. All our laboratories are fully operational like before.”

Even though the State has its own water testing laboratory, it seems the government has no faith on the credibility of the department which has forced it to rope in a private firm for the purpose.

Moreover, some feel that due to vested interests, a private firm has been engaged.