Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Amid the prevailing heat wave conditions across Odisha, the misery of people in several parts of the State has compounded amid the acute drinking water crisis.

While residents in some parts of the State are still depending on the muddy water of the ponds to quench their thirst, people in other parts have staged road blockades as they have been deprived of basic amenities like drinking water facilities by the administration.

Residents gherao officials

Expressing their resentment over the lack of drinking water facilities in their area, villagers of Santara in Jajpur district gheraoed the department officials, who had come to the area to take stock of the situation.

"We have requested the administration many times to make arrangements for drinking water facilities in our area before the summer. However, they didn't pay any attention towards our pleas. Though the government has put up boards showing that drinking water is being provided to every household in the village, nothing has been done yet. With the mercury crossing over 44 degrees Celsius, residents in the area sans drinking water facilities have been left to die of sunstroke," said Satyabrata Jena, a protesting villager.

"Water level has receded in the area due to the scorching heat. Still, we are supplying water in the area by diverting from other sources," said Bichitra Kumar Puhana, Water Corporation of Odisha (WATCO) Assistant Manager from Byasanagar.

Road blockades

Meanwhile, residents of Kantabanji under Bolangir district staged a road blockade in their area protesting against the disruption of water supply to Ward number five and six.

The situation is no different in the Digapahandi area in the Ganjam district. Hundreds of women blocked Padmanabhapur main road with buckets and pots in protest against the sheer apathy of the administration.

"As the administration didn't care about our ordeal and take any steps to restore water supply, we were forced to launch the protest. We will not withdraw our protest until our demands are not met," said Abhimanyu Jani, a protestor from Padmanabhapur village.

'No drinking water, no votes'

In another picture of neglect, a huge water tank has been built and pipes have been laid to each house of Pratapgiri village in Ganjam district under the Basudha scheme. However, water is yet to be supplied under the scheme. As a result, the villagers are forced to use contaminated water from the ponds. The only tube well available in the village has been lying defunct as the water level has receded in scorching summer.

The villagers have threatened to boycott the upcoming elections if their problem pertaining to the drinking water crisis is not solved immediately.

"We are going through a severe ordeal due to the drinking water crisis in our area. We are forced to drink muddy water from ponds and are in constant fear of falling ill. We demand an immediate supply of drinking water for our village. If our demand is not fulfilled at the earliest, we will boycott the upcoming elections," said Surabhi Sahu, a resident of Pratapgiri.