SAMBALPUR: With jaundice claiming more lives in the district headquarters town, the administration has decided to suspend Sambalpur Lok Mahotsav which was scheduled to commence from January 4.
Following a meeting with Chief Secretary GC Pati, Collector Balwant Singh announced that the local cultural festival will be put on hold since a large congregation could lead to worsening of the situation in the town and its neighbourhood.
On Wednesday, another death was reported from Turang village under Sambalpur Sadar police limits where one Guru Prasad Meher succumbed to the water-borne disease. The jaundice toll now stands at 16 while over 900 persons are undergoing treatment at different hospitals.
With the viral hepatitis spreading its tentacles, the administration focussed on strengthening the drinking water supply system and plugging the leaking pipelines to prevent further contamination.
While crackdown on roadside eateries selling unhygienic and stale food will continue, the district administration has decided to set up PVC tanks at Tamlapada, Kumbharpada and Baraipali for supply of drinking water. Though areas under Baraipali have, so far, been unaffected, the authorities are not willing to take any chances.
Plans are afoot to stop open defecation and prevent faecal contamination of drinking water. For this, thrust is being laid on Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaigns to reach out to as many people as possible to create awareness, the Collector said.
Similarly, community toilets with water facility will be constructed on a war-footing. Singh said priority will be given to community toilets with temporary septic tanks at Thelkopada where people use roofless temporary toilets set up above drains. Similar situation prevails at Ambedkar Nagar in the town.
However, it is a different scenario in areas along river Mahanadi. Though residents along the river have toilets in their houses, they prefer to defecate in the open resulting in water pollution. To tackle the situation, people will be sensitised on the hazards of open defecation.