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Pradeep Pattanayak

The residents of Krushnaprasad, Brahmagiri and Astaranga areas in Puri district share a common problem-severe scarcity of drinking water. 

Little wonder, they have decided to make it an issue in the forthcoming Panchayat elections.

The people of Krushnaprasad area had taken up their drinking water issue with the concerned officials on umpteen number of times. Finally the government had announced a drinking water project under the Basudha scheme. In 2018, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation stone for the project. The residents then thought their water problem would end soon. But the project hit a roadblock and has not taken off beyond the foundation. And, heaps of pipes can still be seen scattered all over the ground. Presently, the people are facing the same drinking water crisis. 

The fate of Brahmagiri residents is no different either. Despite living closer to the sea, they are struggling to get their daily quota of fresh water. With an aim to supply drinking water to 59 villages, a project was flagged off in 2011. But the project is yet to see the light of the day. Currently, the machineries are gathering rust and plasters from the construction, like overhead tanks, have started to peel off. 

In Astaranga area, as nothing has been done till date to end the drinking water woes, resentment is brewing among people. “In Krushnaprasad area, the drinking water problem is acute. We have been collecting water from a well. We use it after filtering with a piece of cotton. At the time of elections, we take up the issue with the political parties and candidates. But nothing has been done to end our plight,” alleged a woman. 

“A single tube well is all that we have in our village. It gives out muddy water. Neither the Minister nor is the Sarpanch showing any interest to end our problem,” rued a female resident of Nagar Panchayat. 

The villages in the Puri district are facing natural calamities like cyclones and floods every year. These calamities leave a trail of destruction in their lives. Political leaders make a bee line to the affected villages, promising the villagers of all sorts of help. But as time passes by, the promises are also forgotten. 

Bhabeni Muduli, a resident of Begunia area of Gop block, narrated her plight. “Cyclone Fani in 2019 had caused massive destruction here. We lost our crop to it. A portion of our house was also damaged. But we are yet to receive any compensation. Why should we cast our votes,” she asked. 

Another issue bugging Puri is 'corruption'. It has come to such a pass that in Motari Panchayat of Delang, PDS articles like rice and wheat are still being withdrawn in the names of over 30 dead persons. Similarly, wide spread corruption in old age pension, Biju Pucca Ghar and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana is only fanning people’s anger. 

“In the names of over 30 dead persons, PDS articles are still being withdrawn at the Fair Price Shop in Gandapada village. As a proof to my claim, I have submitted the RTI reply to the government. The government should make an inquiry and punish those found guilty,” said Jagadish Pradhan, an RTI activist.

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