BALASORE: Balasore district is a typical case of water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink. With the temperature hovering over 40 degree Celsius, most of the tubewells have dried up and piped water supply projects are defunct.
Several parts of the district thirst for water throughout summer though two major rivers - the Subarnarekha and the Budhabalanga - pass through it and the Bay of Bengal is in close proximity. It’s a double whammy for the sea-side villagers as besides water scarcity, salinity in drinking water haunts them throughout the year. In Mandal Sahi, a village under Sadar block, about a km from the sea, one tubewell fails to meet the requirement of about 150 residents due to draw-down condition.
Of the 23 lakh population of the coastal district, at least 20 lakh live in rural areas. According to official reports, 58 villages under 17 panchayats in Nilagiri, Oupada, Khaira, Jaleswar and Sadar blocks have been identified as water-stressed areas. The main source of drinking water in the district is groundwater, which is distributed through piped water supply projects and tubewells. There are 18,222 functional tubewells and 520 piped water supply projects that supply water through 8,000 standposts. There are 92 overhead tanks of various capacities in the rural areas.
While the Rural Development department says all the stand-posts are in running condition, the residents allege that most of the facilities are in draw-down condition. The situation is acute in about 125 coastal villages under Balasore, Sadar, Remuna, Baliapal, Bhogarai, Jaleswar, Bahanga and Soro blocks.
RWSS Executive Engineer Rajib Kumar Panigrahi said apart from the existing tubewells, 339 new tubewells will be sunk by the end of June in rural areas. “A district water supply plan has been prepared and surface water from Subarnarekha river will be used to supply processed drinking water to Bhograi, Jaleswar, Basta, Baliapal and Sadar blocks. Another project is likely on Sono river which will supply water to Nilagiri block,” he added.