Water Crisis Doubles up for Scarcity, Salinity - The New Indian Express

Water Crisis Doubles up for Scarcity, Salinity

Published: 24th April 2014 09:20 AM

Last Updated: 24th April 2014 09:55 AM

Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. This quote by Samuel Taylor Coleridge summarises the plight of people in Balasore. Situated close to the Bay of Bengal, people here struggle for drinking water every summer.

With mercury hovering around 40 degree Celsius, people in rural areas of the district are bearing the brunt of water crisis as most of the tubewells have turned defunct and the piped water supply projects are non-functional.

Plight of seaside villagers is even worse. For them, in fact, it’s a double whammy. Not only is the water scarce, its saline.

Talapada, a panchayat under Remuna block is just one km from the sea. The tubewells have failed to meet the requirement of 5,000 residents. The panchayat is provided piped water, but it does not suffice.

While the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) officials claimed that all the stand posts are operational, residents alleged that most of them are defunct. Situation is worse in 125 coastal villages.

Social activist Dilip Kumar Parida said Balasore district is thirsting for water even though two major rivers Subarnarekha and Budhabalanga pass through it. “It is a typical case of scarcity amidst plenty. Despite repeated demands, no project involving the rivers has been taken up to solve the perennial problem of drinking water scarcity,” he said.

Not only in coastal areas, northern blocks of the district especially Raibania in Jaleswar block have been suffering from acute water crisis. People in these areas have to walk down three to four kms to fetch water. Most of the rural populace, who depend on the polluted pond or ditch water, are falling prey to water-borne diseases.

According official sources, most of the piped water supply schemes, which were initiated under the sector reforms project in 2002-03, are defunct now. Of nearly 400 projects, over 100 are non-functional for the past two years. While some projects are lying defunct due to non-payment of electricity bills, many others have been rendered defunct due to poor standard of work and lack of maintencance.

“Some other projects are not functioning as the connecting pipes have been damaged during the construction of village roads. However, efforts are on to repair the pipes and tubewells which are defunct,” said an official at the RWSS division.

According to official reports, the district has around 14,000 tubewells against the requirement of half the number. As per Government norms, there should be one tubewell for 250 persons and accordingly, the district should have 7,000 tubewells. “Though this should solve the water crisis, the situation is different,” said Parida.

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