Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

In Odisha, summer always comes with water woes. However, the problem continues to hit many pockets of the state even though the Odisha government is trying to sort the issue out through BASUDHA yojana. However, the scheme seems to have flopped in parts of Ganjam, Kendrapara and Rayagada. 

The picture of people struggling to get a bucket full of water at the outset of Summer has come to the fore in the coastal as well as remote areas. 

Fed up with the government's apathetic attitude, residents in many parts of the State have threatened to boycott the upcoming General Election.

Take the case of Gayaganda village in Ganjam district. Here, a drinking water project has been set up at a cost of Rs 10 lakh. But it has failed in quenching the villagers' thirst. 

Due to lack of maintenance, while the electric transformer connected to the water supply centre has been covered with weeds and creepers, the facility has been completely lying defunct, forcing the women to collect contaminated water from pits dug up on dried-up river beds. 

The situation at Chandiapalli village under Mahakalapada block in Kendrapara district is no different either. Under BASUDHA yojana, pipelines have been laid out but it takes more than half an hour to fill a bucket. Because of this, the villagers are forced to collect water from river risking their lives as there is a possibility of crocodile attack.  

After several pleas, a tube well has been installed in the village. But it is of no use as it dispenses saline water.

When asked, the engineer of Water Resource Department refused to give any comment in this regard.

Meanwhile, the villagers in both districts have threatened to boycott the upcoming election if the issues are not addressed soon. 

“The political leaders are only concerned about votes. Though the government has been boasting of providing many facilities to the people, it has failed to provide us with basic facilities like drinking water. We will boycott the election if the drinking water issue is not solved soon,” said Basanti Naik, a resident of Gayaganda village.

“The administration seems to have lent a deaf ear to our pleas. If our drinking water problem is not solved, we will stay away from exercising our franchise," said Banita Sethi, a resident of Chandiapalli village.

Similar is the case at Parima village under Padmapur block in Rayagada district. As many as 70 families in this remote and hilly village are having a tough time in getting their daily quota of drinking water. The much-hyped BASUDHA yojana in this village remains confined to advertisement boards.

As none paid any heed to their problem, the villagers tried to bring the stream water from the hill to their village through pipes. Though they have partial success in their attempt, it can't meet their daily requirement for water. Out of the three tube wells in the village, two are currently lying defunct. The villagers alleged the local water supply authority has been giving lip service. 

“A new water supply project has been estimated under BASUDHA  yojana. It will be started in the village soon,” said Padmapur block Water Supply Department Engineer Ajay Kumar Majhi.

 However, the villagers no longer believe in such assurances. 

“If the government doesn’t provide drinking water facilities in our village soon, we will not exercise our franchise in the upcoming elections,” said Kante Majhi, a fumed resident of Parima village.