The Odisha government sought to pat its own back following the launch of ‘Sujal Drink From Tap Mission' at Puri on Monday.
As per the State government, the pilgrim town of Puri has now joined the league of international cities like London, New York and Singapore in supplying quality potable piped drinking water from municipal taps on round-the-clock basis.
However, major Opposition parties in the BJD-ruled State alleged that nearly 69 per cent households in the Odisha still lack piped drinking water facility.
Though the Odisha government claims to be having plans to implement the ambitious ‘Sujal’ project in 16 cities first and extend it to all urban areas, Opposition parties alleged that such initiative has been undertaken with an eye on the upcoming Panchayat and urban local body elections in the State.
“In 21 years of BJD regime people of the State are still deprived of drinking water. Nearly 70 per cent of the population is yet to have access to safe drinking water. Today, they have undertaken the project keeping in mind the upcoming elections,” said BJP MLA, Mohan Majhi.
To understand the ground realities of the drinking water situation in Odisha, one needs to go through the reply furnished by the Jal Shakti Minister in Lok Sabha to a question raised by MP Basant Panda.
Out of the 85.67 lakh rural households in Odisha, water connection or tap water supply has been provided to only 26.49 lakh households which accounts for 30.93 per cent. The data clearly indicates that nearly 69 per cent rural households in Odisha are yet to have proper water connection through pipeline network.
The Odisha government has drawn Rs 830.85 crore out of the total Rs 3,323.42 crore funds allocated by the Centre under the Jal Jeevan Mission in 2021-22.
The data of Urban and Housing Development Department says that out of the total households in 112 urban areas, water supply coverage has been extended to around 30.31 per cent households.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) President, Niranjan Patnaik said, “It is just a political gimmick as the State government lacks intent to do something for the people.”
Responding to the allegations levelled by the Opposition parties, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water Department Minister Pratap Jena said, “By 2024, we will provide drinking water through tap to every household in rural areas. By March 2022, people in 114 urban local bodies will have access to safe drinking water through taps.”