ROURKELA: This summer is not a good time to play host at the Rourkela Industrial Township (RIT). With an unprecedented water scarcity haunting the steel township, employees of the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) have stopped entertaining guests at home. The logic is simple: You cannot have visitors at your place when you cannot offer them a glass of water.
Sounds incredible but that’s the story at RSP, the first integrated PSU steel plant in India, established way back in 1955. With a water crisis gripping the township, employees and executives are trying out various methods to cope. While family members of working class employees queuing up near tube-wells is a common sight now, some of the employees — executives included — are “stealing a bath” at the RSP premises. “The piped water supply is not sufficient for my family of three. So I have to take bath at the steel plant. Other colleagues of mine are doing the same,” said an employee of the repair and maintenance department.
In the last 10 days, the problem has grown worse, particularly for those residing in Sector-1. Staff, who have been allotted flats in the upper floors of the RSP quarters, are the hardest hit as they do not receive enough to meet their needs.
Besides, there is no fixed time for water supply. On sighting a water tanker, families rush to get their quota. Each family gets one chance at the tap to collect two to three buckets after a wait of 15 to 30 minutes.
Similar chaotic scenes prevail in Sectors 2, 16, 18, 20 and 21 and parts of Sectors 3, 4, 6 and 7. Employees are seen standing at nearby tube-well points to collect water, while others carry the precious commodity in containers hefted on to their scooters and four-wheelers.
Against a demand of 15.5 million gallons per day, RSP is currently able to supply less than half to its work force of 17,000 and 5,675 shops located in the township.
The RSP management attributed the grim scenario to the drying up of the river Koel near the intake well at Sector-20. It is belatedly excavating the riverbed to enhance accumulation of water. Himanshu Bal, general secretary of the Rourkela Ispat Karkhana Karmachari Sangh (RIKKS), the RSP’s recognised trade union, said modifications are being made to the main lines to ensure direct supply of bulk water drawn from the river Brahmani by the Tarkera pump house to the hilltop reservoir.