Bhubaneswar: Taking note of the acute drinking water crisis in many parts of the state, the Odisha government on Tuesday decided to provide drinking water to all poor urban households free of charge.
A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level review meeting on the prevailing drinking water crisis in the state presided over by chief minister Naveen Patnaik at the State Secretariat here.
Briefing media persons after the meeting, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Pradipta Kumar Mahapatra said the state government will spend about Rs 40 crore towards providing drinking water to all urban households.
He said the chief minister also ordered verification of all water supply hot spots under the Rural Water Supply department within seven days and asked the concerned chief engineer to submit a certificate of verification to the state government in this regard by April 30.
It was also decided that the SRC’s office will release Rs 25 crore to augment water supply through pipes, tankers and additional vans to the urban areas.
The chief minister directed the concerned departments to dig one tube well each in all 27,711 partially covered habitations in the state at a cost of Rs 195 crore.
“Apart from this, instructions have been given to all panchayats to earmark at least 30 percent of their fund for pipe water supply to be done by the Rural Water Supply (RWS) department to ensure pipe water supply to all panchayats,,” the SRC added.
He further said the state government is constantly monitoring the grievances of the people through the Sanjog Helpline – toll-free number is 18003456770/155335 – and trying to ensure that all complaints received through this number are attended.
“We are taking stock of the number of complaints received and attended through this helpline every evening,” he pointed out.
The SRC also said keeping in mind the intense heat wave condition in the state, it was decided in the meeting that the leave of all staffs and engineers of the departments related to drinking water will be cancelled till the heat wave relents.
Talking about the steps the state government is going to take to address the acute drinking water crisis, he said it has been decided that about Rs 300 crore given by the 13th Finance Commission to all panchayats in the state, which is now with the district administration, will be earmarked for drinking water infrastructure.
“Besides, drinking water supply will have the No 1 priority in the the amount provided by the 14th Finance Commission and 4th State Finance Commission to the panchayats for infrastructure development work. The Panchayati Raj department will intimate the decision of the state government in a letter to all district collectors, BDOs and village panchayats,” the SRC informed.
He also said the district collectors have been asked to take immediate steps to construct check dams in the rivers where the water is shallow so that it can be used by the people for bath while domestic animals will also get enough water during the summer.