CUTTACK: The prevailing intense heat wave condition has worsened the water woes of several villages of 14 blocks in Cuttack district.
While most of the rivers and rivulets have dried up and the groundwater level is on a decline, the indifferent attitude of the district administration is adding to the summer misery of people residing in Banki, Damapada, Narasighpur, Athagarh, Tangi-Choudwar, Salepur, Nischintakoili, Mahanga, Baranga, Niali, Kantapada, Cuttack Sadar, Tigiria and Badamba blocks.
As per official reports, the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) wing of Rural Development (RD) Department has so far installed 499 pipe water projects and 22,808 tube wells to cater to the drinking water needs of a population of 18.89 lakh in these 14 blocks.
Sources said of total 499 pipe water projects, 199 are lying defunct either due to disconnection of electricity for nonpayment of dues, theft of transformers or some other technical snags. And the ones that are functioning have failed to cover the minimum area either due to damaged pipelines or lack of pipeline coverage.
Similarly, of 22,808 tube wells, more than 4,500 are lying defunct in these blocks. Of the remaining ones, water from 3,000 tube wells emits foul smell and is unfit for human consumption.
As per reports, depletion of ground water level in Banki, Damapada, Narasinghpur, Athagarh, Tangi-Choudwar, Salepur, Nischintakoili and Mahanga blocks has rendered around 2,000 tube wells defunct. The situation is worse in Salepur, Mahanga and Nischintakoili as most of the tube wells are lying defunct due to depleting groundwater level. Moreover, authorities of Mahanadi Irrigation North division have withheld the release of water in Kendrapara and Pattamundai Main Canal since January on the pretext of repair and renovation work adding to the woes of people residing in these three blocks.
Locals alleged that the groundwater is depleting in the region due to excess drawing of water through large-sized deep bore wells by Backbone-Utkal Joint Venture, engaged in widening and construction work of a portion of Cuttack-Chandabali State Highway, at its workshop site near Nandolagada.
Last month, residents of 11 Wards of Harirajpur village under Similipur panchayat in Damapada block had staged a road blockade on Banki-Cuttack road against the apathetic attitude of the administration towards providing drinking water facilities to locals.
Of total eight tube wells, three are lying defunct while water from the rest is unfit for consumption. Villagers have to walk more than 2 km in sand bed of Mahanadi river to fetch water, said Jaison Mahapatra of Harirajpur.
“Though the administration had assured to address our water woes, it is yet to keep its promise. To meet their water requirements this summer, people have dug ‘Chuas’ on the dry river bed,” another villager of Harirajpur said.
When contacted, Collector Nirmal Chandra Mishra said as per the decision of District Vigilance and Monitoring Committee on Tuesday, the administration is going to send a proposal to the Government for setting up 1,000 new tube wells in the district. Besides, RWSS has been directed to provide drinking water through tankers in worse-hit areas, he added.