Himansu Shekhar Rout

With the mercury soaring high, the problem of water scarcity is deepening in various parts of Odisha. Amid the sweltering heat wave, people have been struggling for potable water in the Telkoi area of Keonjhar, Chandbali area in Bhadrak and Kaptipada in Mayurbhanj.

As per reports, dried-up water bodies and defunct tube wells have added to their problem. In some places, people have no option but to collect water from pits near rivers. Long queues of women with pots and buckets near tube wells are now a routine scene. 

Upset over the drinking water crisis, women of Jatagaon in Oria panchayat under Telkoi block trooped straight to the block office carrying pots and buckets to lodge their protest.

According to them, the village is inhabited by 40 families. The village has a tube well, but its water was reportedly unfit for drinking as it was muddy. To add to their woes, the tube well has gone kaput.

They alleged that they repeatedly appealed to the administration for repair of the tube well, but nothing has been done.

A woman fumed, "The government has set up two tube wells, but their water is too muddy for consumption.” 

Ashok Deo, RWSS engineer in Telkoi said, "Their complaint was not in the register. I saw them coming to the block office. I will get the tube well repaired by tomorrow.”  

In Nuagoan of Chandbali block, at daybreak, women are found lining up with their pots, buckets and utensils near a tube well. Even fights and noisy scenes often break out as they jostle with each other for water.

The village has a population of 400 belonging to 70 families. Only one tube well has been set up for them, but its water is not enough to cater to their daily needs. Villagers alleged that the drinking water problem is not seasonal, but perennial.

Gedi Behera, a woman of the village said, "We are quarrelling for water every day. One tube well is not enough. When this tube well runs out of water, we have to go to other villages to get water.” 

“Every day, it is a struggle for water. We have to stand in a queue and fights break out over water,” lamented another woman, Basanti Behera. 

Bhadrak Collector, Siddeshwar Baliram Bondar said, "The problem of the village will be looked into and steps will be taken to sort it out.”
In Purunadiha under Kaptipada block, 40 tribal families have allegedly been drinking contaminated water from a small pond. Most of them get sick due to the consumption of pond water.

The villagers alleged that the administration is apathetic towards their routine problem and no steps are being taken to sort out the drinking water issue.

No comments were received from the concerned officials.

(Report by Trilochan Sahoo, Rabindra Nayak and Chinmay Sahoo)