Berhampur reels under water scarcity

Berhampur: Water supply in Berhampur has been hit as Rushikulya river, one of the major sources of water in the Silk City, is drying up in this summer heat, even as water trade seems to have emerged a major business in the sunny days here.

Drinking water is being sold in jars, pouches and buckets in water-scarce areas of Berhampur and in local hotels. Some private tanker services are filling up wells and tanks in private houses.

“We are forced to purchase water as public health engineering organisation (PHEO) has failed to supply adequate quantity. Wells have dried up,” said Sushant Patnaik, a resident of Badakhemundi Street.

PHEO is supplying 50 million litre per day (mld) in the city against the need of 52 mld. The supply has been hit as Rushikulya river, one of the sources, is drying up in the summer heat, sources in it said.

Taking advantage of the shortage of drinking water, some local entrepreneurs as well as from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh have set up units to package water and supply it to market in pouches and jars.

“The business is brisk. Each hotel in the city is buying 500 water pouches on an average daily. Commuters are also opting for pouch water as it is much cheaper than cold drinks,” said one of the suppliers.

Each water pouch (200 ml) costs Rs 1.50, while 20 litre water jars cost between Rs 40 to Rs 50 each.

“We prefer the water jars because it suits our need. We buy at least one jar every day for drinking purposes,” said Sudarshan Mohanty of Dalua Street.

In some areas, water is supplied to houses and hotels through buckets and small tanks. A bucket of water costs Rs 5.

“I supply 20 to 25 buckets to Bada Bazaar each morning,” said water trader Surya Gouda.

Like him many young boys and girls are engaged in supplying water to households and hotels.