Mrunal Manmay Dash

Be it the shortage of doctors or scarcity of potable water, the rural population in Odisha continue to suffer since decades with no immediate succour in sight. 

One such example is the Primary Health Centre (PHC) at Madhapur under Chandbali block in Bhadrak district where health service has crippled since the last 18 months owing to the absence of even a single doctor.

As per reports, it has been 18 months since the lone Ayush doctor posted at the PHC had died. However, no posting has been made at his place so far. The Madhapur PHC has two doctor posts; one Ayush and the other, an MBBS.

Gopabandhu Barik, a local said, “The healthcare system has come to a standstill here at Madhapur. Despite having two permanent structures to function as a hospital, doctors are still a distant dream at the PHC.”

“Even for a fever, the patients have to depend on Chandbali hospital for treatment,” rued Barik.

Similarly another villager, Sandhyarani said, “It is really unfortunate that 5000 locals of this area cannot get basic healthcare facility. Leave alone the doctor, the PHC does not even have drinking water provision.”

Downplaying the allegations, the Health Worker at the PHC, Amarendra Sahu said, “There are nurses who have been posted here recently. And as far as the doctor is concerned, we have already intimated the CDMO about the vacancy. He will take appropriate steps.”

A similar crisis situation snowballed into a flashpoint at Kushapangi under Banki block of Cuttack district, around 100 km away from Madhupur. The residents of Kushapangi Panchayat have been deprived of drinking water supply since four days owing to power disruption to the local pump house.

The irate locals gheraoed the TPCODL office at Jatamundia near Banki and complained about the issue to the Block Development Officer (BDO) of Damapada.

Gagan Beura, a local resident said, “The electricity department has disconnected power supply to the pump house since four days. When asked, the officials told us that the electricity bill of the pump house has remained unpaid since 2019.”

“The Panchayat office or the Block office should have paid the bill. But the Sarpanch has gone into hiding and he is not picking up calls,” alleged Beura.

However, the BDO, Artabandhu Lenka refuted the allegations of non-payment of bills. “We have already deposited Rs 2 lakh for the electricity bill recently. I cannot say why they disconnected the power supply. It might have been over some older outstanding dues before I took charge.”

Though officials in both cases have tailor-made replies to justify the denial of basic service, the hapless masses continue to suffer.