No drinking water, no vote: Locals threaten boycott of upcoming polls

Koraput: As the Assembly elections in Odisha inches closer, Kolab water project displaced families have decided to boycott the polls as a mark of protest against the government’s apathy in ensuring clean drinking water facilities in the village.

As per allegations, neither the district administration nor people’s representative has paid any heed to the repeated complaints by the displaced residents. The lives of the villagers have been severely affected due to lack of safe drinking water, motorable road and adequate irrigation water to farmland.

According to sources, as many as 143 displaced families residing at colony no.7 of Batasona panchayat under Kotpad block in the district have been surviving on a single tube-well for drinking water. Similarly, residents of colony 4, 5 & 6 of Sasahandi Panchayat under Borigumma block have been dependent on only four tube-wells of which fresh water can be accessed from one tube-well.

Local residents alleged that the administration has been ignoring them so they have decided to stay away from voting in the upcoming election.

“The government had made a lot of false promises but nothing has been done for us. We have decided to boycott the polls for non-fulfillment of our basic demands,” a displaced local Trinath Nayak said.

“We have appealed the administration many times but they have never paid attention to our issues. If they do not provide safe drinking water, we will refrain from voting,” rued Lakhmi Gunda.

“Our life is miserable due to lack of water supply to farmland and our agriculture has also been badly affected,” said Kamal Lochan Patra.

It may be noted that hundreds of residents of Koraput and Semiliguda block were displaced to colonies in Borigumma and Kotpad area due to construction of Kolab water project which began in 1980. However, the displaced families are yet to get their new lands authorized and continue to struggle for a dignified life.

On the other hand, responding to the allegations, the local authorities said that necessary steps have been taken to address the issues on a priority basis.

“The Collector had held meeting with the irrigation department and I have directed the Tehsildar for joint verification. Order has already been placed for the concerned department to carry out the repair work for adequate water supply in farming lands” said Jeypore Sub-Collector, Lokanath  Dalabehera.

Kotpad MLA Chandra Sekhar Majhi said, “I have always raised this issue in the house assembly and had alerted the district administration. I will present a memorandum of demands to the state government in coming days.”