Morab village in Karnataka’s Hubli will witness hectic activity in the days to come, with district administration officials expected to drain a 23-acre lake and fill it up with water from the neighbouring Malaprabha canal. The reason? Public pressure after an HIV-positive woman in her late twenties decided to end her life by jumping into it.
Her body, found floating in the lake on November 29, was bloated and half-eaten by fish. Villagers refused to drink water from the water body, believing that it was contaminated with HIV.
Navalgund tahsildar Naveen Hullur said they had no choice but to give in to the villagers’ demands. “Over a thousand people came to the lake with eight water tankers. They said that if we do not drain it dry, they would do it with the tankers they have taken on hire. What could we do in such a situation?” he asked.
Water from the sprawling lake will be pumped out on Wednesday night or the following morning, after which it will be cleaned and then filled with water from Malaprabha canal by December 20.
However, Dr Nagraj — Director of the Rajiv Gandhi institute of Chest and Communicable Diseases — claimed there was no scientific basis for their panic. “It’s wrong to believe that the water has been contaminated with HIV because studies show that the virus cannot survive for over eight hours in water if exposed to temperatures above 25 degrees centigrade. Now, it’s been over six days since the body was recovered,” he said.