ROURKELA: Water scarcity in summer is the most difficult part of life for people of remote and inaccessible hilly hamlets of Raichua and Tilkuda under Bhutura panchayat in Lahunipara block of tribal-dominated Sundargarhdistrict. Tilkuda villager Sunil Munda (32) said they depend on nearby small natural stream for water. With the stream going dry, villagers, braving heat, dig pits on sand bed and collect water in small utensils after a long wait, he added.
Sundargarh Zilla Parishad (ZP) vicepresident Saraswati Naik said Raichua and Tilkuda have no motorable road and villagers face acute shortage of drinking water in summer. Several hilly habitations across the district face similar problems during the season, she claimed. Although the district administration is taking up numerous measures, water scarcity continues to grip both rural and urban populations due to several reasons. The district, spread over 9,712 sq km, is high on industrial and mining operations with rural population accounting for 14.4 lakh followed by 6.6 lakh in four ULBs. Blaming the Government machinery alone will be futile as tribal households located at remote and hilly terrains find it difficult to get piped water supply.
According to an official, piped water supply has been provided to two lakh rural population by the RWSS. With mercury consistently hovering between 42 and 45 degree Celsius, water level of Brahmani, Sankh, Koel, Ib and Deo rivers has drastically fallen. At many places, tubewells are not yielding adequate water or it is unfit for consumption. Villagers rely on rivulets or open wells.
Sundargarh Collector Bhupendra Singh Poonia said despite challenges, the administration is leaving no stone unturned to mitigate the water crisis. As a sustainable and long-term measure, the RWSS has installed about 400 solar pumps while commissioning of about 180 solar pumps is underway. Identification of dry zones is being carried out for remedial measures, he said. RWSS Executive Engineer BK Manahari said each solar pump with senor costs about `4.6 lakh and is fitted with 5,000 litres of overhead tank with a capacity to supply above 20,000 litres water per day. Meanwhile, drinking water scarcity is reported from some slum pockets of Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) limits including Gopanadhupali, Deogaon, MS Pali and Bondamunda. The city administration has set up about 50 synthetic tanks for water storage. However, with Koel river going dry, the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) has started supplying 15 million gallons of water per day to its captive township. Parts of Sundargarh, Birmitrapur and Rajgangpur ULBs are also facing water scarcity.