SRIKAKULAM: Despite the promise of the government to supply water purified by reverse osmosis (RO) plants to the victims of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in Uddanam region of Srikakulam district, the project remains a non-starter. Having allocated `17 crore and undertaken the mother plant works, the project has missed the Ugadi deadline. Suspecting presence of silica in higher levels in the drinking water sources in Uddanam as the mysterious prevalence of the kidney ailments that have been haunting Uddanam for the past several decades, the government has decided to set up RO plants to supply drinking water to the vulnerable villages.
After Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan brought pressure on the government over the issue, a fund of `17 crore was allocated to set up RO water plants across Uddanam. Entrusting the works to the NTR trust, the government said that Kuppam model would be followed to ensure supply of safe drinking water. Local Rural Water Supply (RWS) officials set up a deadline of Ugadi (March-end) for the project, but failed.
However, the officials blame it on technical glitches. “The RO plants at Palasa, Vajrapukotturu and Sompeta are ready to supply water. Rural Development and Panchayat Raj minister N Lokesh is likely to inaugurate the project on September 18,” said RWS superintendent engineer T Ravi, adding that water would be supplied from these plants at `2 per can. The RO units proposed at Kaviti and Kanchili would also be ready by the month-end, he said.
But, the villages continue to suffer. “They (officials) have been saying that RO plants would supply water, but it is yet to be done. We still use the same water which we heard experts say was causing the disease. Do we have any choice?,” said R Rambabu from Pedda Kojjiria in Kaviti mandal. Despite being afraid, the Uddnam villagers use the available groundwater. “At times, we procure mineral water from a place which is seven kilometres away from our village. But, it is costly. A few NGOs have set up RO plants in some villages, but they can’t cater to the needs of all,” said Bhaskar Rao from Jalluputtuga village.
The officials had promised that the water supply would begin in March. “As of now, getting RO water remains a dream. How can we rely on officials? We have no other option, but to wait,” said Kottakota Sudhakar, a resident of Udayapuram in Palasa mandal.
‘Uddanam water is safe’
Even as the experts suspect that the presence of heavy metals in groundwater is causing kidney ailments in Uddanam, the Geological Survey of India officials recently have said that the water contains no hazardous chemicals.