Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

With heat wave conditions prevailing across Odisha, people in several parts of the State are grappling with an acute drinking water crisis. Under such circumstances, the shortage of drinking water has become a major poll issue during the ongoing 2024 General Elections in the State.

While overhead water tanks are allegedly not working, tube wells are lying defunct in many parts of the State amid the sizzling summer compounding the ordeal of the people. Moreover, the Basudha Yojana of the Odisha government to provide water supply through pipes to every household, is allegedly not implemented properly and confined only to graffitis.

Road blockade in Berhampur

Take the case of Ratnapur area on the outskirts of Berhampur. The residents of the area were reportedly forced to stage a road blockade by placing buckets and utensils on the road as the administration lent a deaf ear to their ordeal.

As per reports, as many as 300 families in the area are facing severe water shortages throughout the year. Their problems have been further complicated as the water level receded in summer. The only tube well in their area is not functioning anymore. Though an overhead water tank has been built and pipes have been laid to different houses under the Basudha Yojana, those are reportedly lying defunct.

"We are facing acute drinking water crisis as all the water sources in our area have dried up. The overhead tank built by the government is of no use. Though we have apprised the administration several times, they are not paying any attention to our ordeal," said Minati Das, a resident of Ratnapur.

In response, Kukudakhandi Tehsildar Sapan Kumar Sahu said, "We will seek permission from the Collector to give water connection to the people in the area from another project. It will take around a month."

Acute drinking water crisis in Bhadrak

The Jagannathpur area under the Chandbali block of Bhadrak district is another picture of neglect. A mega drinking water project has been built in the area with an expenditure of crores of rupees. However, the project is yet to be functional even two years after its completion. As a result, the residents in the area are forced to drink muddy water from a canal.

"We are yet to get water supply through pipes. Now, we have no alternative but to use the muddy water from the canal," rued a resident of Jagannathpur.

However, Bhadrak Collector, Siddeshwar Baliram Bondar feigned ignorance about the development.

"I am unaware of the situation as I have not got any complaints in this regard. An inquiry into the incident will be launched and proper steps in this regard will be taken soon," said Bondar.

BJP launches scathing attack 

Meanwhile, the Opposition BJP has launched a scathing attack on the ruling BJD for the acute drinking water crisis in the State. As per the saffron party, though the Centre has provided Rs 10,000 crore under the Jal Jeevan Mission, the State has managed to utilise only Rs 834 crore.

A day before, Home Minister Amit Shah slammed the Odisha government at a public meeting over the acute drinking water crisis in the State.

"Drinking water facilities are still to be provided to around 26 lakh houses in Odisha. If voted to power, BJP will ensure drinking water to every household within two years," Shah had said.

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