SONEPUR:The dried up Surubalijoar, a nullah which merges with river Mahanadi, explains the intensity of water scarcity in Kamira gram panchayat headquarters under Birmaharajpur block of Sonepur district.
Women and young girls walk across the hot river bed with pots and pitchers under the blazing sun to collect water by digging up the surface as other sources have gone dry.
The piped drinking water supplied by Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) department to the villages for the last four years has failed to meet the demand. Deficit rainfall last year and early summer this year besides extreme temperature coupled with low voltage and leakages in distribution network have rendered the scheme meaningless, say the villagers.
The ordeal for around 4,000 people of the village does not stop here. The three water bodies in the village are also drying up fast.
Moreover, of the seven tube-wells in the village, two are defunct since long while two more are not working since early this year. The three other tube-wells produce red coloured water with iron particulates and is unfit for human consumption.
The villagers are left with no option but to draw water from the lone tube-well and only a fortunate few manage to get water. Several other villagers trek about half a km on the hot river bed to Surubalijoar which has a thin flow of water. They dig up small pits (Chahala) and collect water.
When contacted, Birmaharajpur Block Development Officer Basanta Majhi and Assistant Engineer, RWSS, BB Das claimed that the piped water supply has been restored. But, they seem to be unaware about the ground realities. They shifted the onus of repairing the tube-wells to the persons in charge in the gram panchayat.