Unconfirmed reports suggest that the 150-odd residents of the village had refused to consume the lake water over reports that the woman had recently been tested positive for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) by a private laboratory. After draining the lake, it will be thoroughly cleaned before filling it with fresh water from Malaprabha canal by December 20.
According to the local official, although the virus is usually transmitted through sexual intercourse, infected blood and from an infected mother to the baby in her womb or through breastfeeding, the villagers' alarm at the discovery a week ago drove the demand for the lake to be drained.
Last year, a boy had drowned in the same lake but no hue and cry was made over use of the water at that time, Ravi Kagadal, former panchayat member, said.
"The villagers themselves took the initiative by providing pipes and other equipment required to pump out water from the lake".
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Afraid they would contract HIV/AIDS if they used its water, villagers at Morab, about 30 km from Hubballi, informed authorities they would not use it till fresh water was filled.
Authorities first told villagers that they would test the water, but no one relented.
"It's sheer ignorance stemming from lack of awareness", said Dr. Glory Alexander of the Asha Foundation. "There is no risk of infection spreading from the water", she said.
Another villager pointed out, "We would have consumed the water if it was the body of a normal person, but the woman died of HIV". More than 50 people are involved in pumping out water. "The decision was also approved by the local panchayat", Naveen Hullur, tehsildar of Navalgund taluk, said.
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