Govt on the firing line in Assembly over water scarcity

Bhubaneswar: The Opposition parties on Monday lambasted the state government in the Odisha Assembly for its failure to provide drinking water to the people in the State.

Opposition members alleged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has no moral rights to hold the post any further as he has failed to provide drinking water to the people despite being in power for 16 years.

Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra said in the House; “At present, 40% people have to traverse more than a mile to collect water as compared to 32% in 2001.”

Mishra further alleged the situation had arisen because of lack of coordination between Urban Development, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj departments.

Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati told media persons, “In every village of the state, people are facing water crisis. While liquor is available in most parts of the State, water has become scarce. Today, members cutting across political parties demanded a solution to the water crisis.”

Besides, Bahinipati demanded a probe into false bill submitted to the government for repair work of tube wells.

Expressing similar views, BJP MLA Rabinarayan Naik said, “The minister accepted that water crisis is prevailing in the State, but sought to paint a rosy picture talking about several plans. He, however, said the department does not have sufficient funds. The way the temperature is rising, water crisis will be grim in the coming days. Apart from this, there are no water facilities for slums being established in urban areas.”

Refuting the charges, BJD MLA Amar Prasad Satpathy said, “The State government has taken steps on a war footing to face the problem. The minister has also accepted the ongoing water crisis in the State. As a measure, water resources will be utilized optimally.”

Meanwhile, Badrinarayan Patra, Rural Development minister, said several works could not progress due to reduction in Central funds for drinking water projects.

Patra told media persons, “The government accepts there is a water crisis. To address the possible situation, 7,500 tube wells were set up and MLAs have been asked to set up 10 tube wells each in their constituency.”

“It is obvious during summer the water level goes down. As a contingency plan, water tankers are being sent to villages by Panchayati Raj department,” he added.

The minister stated 4,17,749 tube wells and 12,923 sanitary wells have been set up for 1,57,158 villages and hamlets habitation. Besides, digging of new wells is on as per the requirement, he added.