BHUBANESWAR: With temperature across Odisha soaring high in an unprecedented manner, a majority of water sources in rural areas has gone dry giving rise to acute drinking water crisis. Shortage of staff in the Rural Development (RD) and Panchayati Raj departments at the field-level has accentuated the problem.
After provision of drinking water was transferred to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) from RD department, it has created a piquant s ituat ion as panchayats do not have required manpower and infrastructure.
Referring to large scale vacancies in panchayats, Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra said posts of junior engineers and other officers are vacant in most places. Besides, after the transfer of responsibility to panchayats, the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) is not responding to the situation properly, he said.
Mishra said most of the water sources have gone dry in villages and pipe water schemes are not working. But the State Government is yet to take any concrete step to solve the problem. More than 50 per cent of the tubewells installed both in urban and rural areas have become defunct, he said.
On top of this, in RD department, which is responsible for supply of drinking water in rural areas, more than one third posts are vacant. Similarly, more than 1,500 posts including 700 engineers are vacant in the department. While 529 engineer posts are vacant in the rural works division, 175 posts are vacant in RWSS division of the department.
Official sources maintained that 529 non-technical posts in rural works and 257 in RWSS are vacant. Out of 101 sanctioned non-technical posts in the State Secretariat, 45 posts are vacant. Besides, the RWSS programme of the department depends on contractual and temporary employees.
With drinking water crisis becoming more acute as the summer advances, resentment is growing among the people. In several places, people have come to streets demanding provision of drinking water.