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Pradeep Singh

"I am 86 now and since my childhood, I have been struggling for a drop of water,” said an elderly man from Nuagaon village in Ganjam, home district of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The Octogenarian went on to say, “Elections after elections, we get assurances to get the drinking water crisis solved. The politicians assure us and we vote for them, but everything changes after the polls are over. And, our suffering continues."

Tears rolled down his wrinkled cheeks while narrating the villagers’ daily struggle to get a drop of water since decades. "We no longer have faith in the leaders. No one should come to us asking for vote if our issue is not resolved," he said adding that their patience has faded away after protracted denial of the basic right.

On Wednesday, hundreds of villagers, including women, from Nuagoan under Aska block in the district blocked road and demanded immediate steps to resolve their acute water shortage issue.

They alleged that the village is yet to receive piped drinking water facility. The only hand pump in their area hardly functions. While their neighbouring villages have all facilities for potable water, their decades-long demand is yet to be heard, they alleged.

“We are repeatedly approaching the local administration and even the MLA over the issue, but no one is listening to us. The villages around here have water facilities, but we don’t have. We are going to boycott the Panchayat poll if our issue is not resolved beforehand,” said another villager.

She further said the villagers will continue blocking the road if their demand is not met. “We will be forced to resort to violence as the sufferings of children and elderly people for water is getting unbearable,” she warned.

Meanwhile, offiials of the local administration could not be contacted to comment over the allegations brought in by the villagers.

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