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Pradeep Pattanayak

Soaring mercury level has left Jemamani Singh, a resident of Baunsagadia village under Khaira block in Balasore district really worried. These summer days, her day starts with being upset over collecting daily quota of drinking water for her family. 

To be the first person to reach the village well (the only one in the area), she makes it sure to get up as early as possible in the wee hours every day. Then she carries buckets in hands and pots on head before striding towards the well. Some days, luck favours her, and some other days, it does not. In that case, she has to wait three to four hours at the well to get her quota of daily requirement. 

As obvious it is, Jemamani is not alone in this predicament. The entire village is facing acute drinking water crisis, which is a recurring feature. 

Jemamani says they have a tube well in the village but the water it dispenses is not fit for consumption at all. “It has been a year since the tube well started giving out dirty water. We have taken up the matter with officers but none seems concerned for our problem,” rues Jemamani. 

“We are forced to use the contaminated water from the well. Even if we are consuming the water after filtering it with a piece of cotton, many of our villagers are complaining of skin and stomach related problems,” she alleges. 

The picture emerging from remotest Kodingi village in Malkangiri district is not different either. 

For the 25 to 30 Kondh families inhabiting the village, covering a distance of five miles to bring a pitcher full of water has become all in a day’s work.

Like the tale of Baunsagadia village, here too, the villagers depend on a well, which is even a more dilapidated one. As its water level has already touched rock bottom, the villagers fear in next one week, it may get completely dried up. 

“Every summer, the drinking water crisis haunts us. It is not that we have not informed the concerned officer. We have done this but to no avail. The government is doing nothing to end our problems,” complains a resident. 

After seeing the video of people’s sufferings, PD, DRDA of Malkangiri district Bala Mukunda Bhuyan said he has instructed the block development officer and executive engineer of RWSS to visit the villages in a day or two and take immediate steps to address the situation.

Meanwhile, as pictures of people struggling for getting drinking water emerge from different parts of the State, the blame-game between political parties begins to intensify. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has alleged that the BJD-ruled dispensation has completely failed in implementing the Jal Jeevan Mission. The party alleged that 56 per cent of the total houses in the State are yet to receive proper clean drinking water.  In 160 blocks, drinking water supply projects are in paper only. 

“The State has received 15th Finance Commission grants of Rs 1,002 crore in the financial year 2021-22. But the State government is using Basudha logo instead of Jal Jeevan Mission logo,” alleged BJP leader Ramaranjan Baliarsingh. 

Notably, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water Minister Pratap Jena had on March 29 informed it in the House that they would supply drinking water to each and every household in the State by the end of 2024.  
 

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