Six months on, Uddanam still awaits promised Ugadi gift

Reverse osmosis water plants for kidney ailment victims remain a non-starter

Published: 17th September 2017 11:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th September 2017 12:15 PM   |  A+A-

Readied a few months ago, the RO mother plant at Sompeta in Uddanam region is yet to begin operation | Express

Express News Service

SRIKAKULAM: Despite the promise of the government to supply water purified by reverse osmosis (RO) plants to the victims of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in Uddanam region of Srikakulam district, the project remains a non-starter. Having allocated `17 crore and undertaken the mother plant works, the project has missed the Ugadi deadline. Suspecting the presence of silica in higher levels in the drinking water sources in Uddanam as the mysterious prevalence of the kidney ailments that have been haunting Uddanam for the past several decades, the government has decided to set up RO plants to supply drinking water to the vulnerable villages. After Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan brought pressure on the government over the issue, a fund of `17 crore was allocated to set up RO water plants across Uddanam. 

Entrusting the works to the NTR Trust, the government said that the Kuppam model would be followed to ensure supply of safe drinking water. The local Rural Water Supply (RWS) officials set up a deadline of Ugadi (March-end) for the project, but failed. However, the officials blame it on technical glitches. “The RO plants at Palasa, Vajrapukotturu and Sompeta are ready to supply water. Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister N Lokesh is likely to inaugurate the project on September 18,” said RWS superintendent engineer T Ravi, adding that water would be supplied from these plants at `2 per can. The RO units proposed at Kaviti and Kanchili would also be ready by the month-end, he said.   

But, the villages continue to suffer. “They (officials) have been saying that the RO plants would start supply of water, but it is yet to be done. We are still using the same water which we heard the experts say was causing the disease. Do we have any choice?,”  said R Rambabu, a resident of Pedda Kojjiria village in Kaviti mandal. 

Despite being afraid, the Uddanam villagers use the available groundwater. 
“At times, we procure mineral water from a place which is seven kilometres away from our village. But, it is costly. A few NGOs have set up RO plants in some villages, but they can’t cater to the needs of all,” said Bhaskar Rao from Jalluputtuga village. “The officials had promised that the water supply would begin in March. “As of now, getting the promised RO water remains a dream. How can we rely on the officials? We have no other option, but to wait,” said Kottakota Sudhakar, a resident of Udayapuram in Palasa mandal. 

Uddanam water is safe, says GSI 
Even as the experts suspect that the presence of heavy metals in groundwater is causing kidney ailments in Uddanam, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) officials recently have said that the water contains no hazardous chemicals.  After a survey, the GSI is understood to have written to the district authorities saying that no hazardous elements are present in the water resources.  “A few days ago, the GSI officials informed Collector K Dhananjaya Reddy that Uddanam water is safe for consumption. The  RO water supply will begin soon. It will erase the misconceptions from the people’s mind,” RWS superintendent engineer T Ravi said.

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