BALANGIR: Come summer and water woes of inhabitants of Balangir town spills over. Though the authorities concerned claim that they have been supplying water as per demand, nearly half of the population has to manage without water for half of hot months.
The town was once dotted with water bodies dug up by erstwhile kings and philanthropists considering the fact that there is no perennial river nearby. With passage of time, most of those sources have either dried up due to lack of maintenance or have been encroached with the rise in population. As a result, the people have to depend on pipe water supplied by Public Health Engineering Organisation (PHEO) or the tankers engaged by the municipality. But, the supply by these agencies falls far short of demand.
The PHEO procures water through a 55-km pipeline from Mahanadi river at Nandanmal in Sonepur district which passes through five stages where water is pumped. The places where water is pumped are Nandanmal, Sibtola, Kesharkela, Madhiapali and the overhead tanks in the town. Another source is Tel river near Tarbha. According to official sources, 16 million liter per day (MLD) is supplied to 4,980 legal connections in the town having over one lakh population. But it is subject to the fact that if all the pumps work for at least 18 hours a day, the sources said.
Ironically, despite such arrangement, people of Tikrapara, Malpara, Rameswar Nagar, Talpali, Railway Station Road, Sudpara, Shantipara, Radharanipara and College Chowk get pipe water once in six or seven days. Long queues before stand posts and water tankers engaged by the municipality are common sights during scorching days when the mercury hovers over 45 degree Celsius.
The worst affected area in the town is Chandrasekhar Nagar. Surprisingly, waterlines have been laid and pipes fitted in the area four years back but there is no water supply yet. Basudev Sa, a resident of that area, alleged that the PHEO authorities are not at all serious about the issue. “Our persistent efforts to convince the officials for the water supply have failed to move them. We have also raised the issue with several political leaders but failed to solve the problem. It seems there is no respite for us in near future,” said Basudev.
The causes of the problem are not far to seek. The sources put the blame on errant power supply, leakage, choked pipes and pilferage. PHEO officials said during summer, power supply goes for a toss. Most of the times, electricity is not supplied for more than 12 hours. In semi-urban and rural areas, getting power supply for six hours a day is a luxury. As a result, the pumps in those areas do not operate and water supply is affected, they claimed.
Choked pipes leading to water leakage is a common phenomenon in Rameswar Nagar. Jyotsna Tripathy, a home maker of the area said they have been reeling under water crisis particularly during this period due to water leakage for several years. “Our ‘para’ is getting very less water. Though we have taken up the leakage matter with the authorities, there has been no remedial measure,” she said.
Ratnakar Jena, Executive Engineer PHEO, said they were trying to supply water as per the demand of the town. “We are facing problems like erratic supply of electricity and leakage in pipeline. Water supply from Tel river has been started recently. Now, Balangir town is in a better situation regarding water supply,” Jena said.