BALANGIR: Women walking miles with pitchers on their heads is a familiar scene in various parts of Balangir district. With drinking water scarcity getting acute by the day and traditional water bodies drying up, people depend on rivers and ponds for their daily needs.
Hundreds of people of Muribahal, Loisingha, Patnagarh, Titilagarh, Belpada, Bangomunda and Turekela blocks of the district have been facing water crisis year after year but little effort has been put in by the administration to ensure regular flow of water during peak summer months.
The situation is worse in Kudobhata village of Belpada block where over 1,500 people depend on three tube wells. A similar situation prevails in Juba, Kharkhara, Salandi, Dunguripali, Bhuliabandh and Mandal villages under the block.
While traditional water bodies like chahala, kata, munda and bandha are drying up, a few tube wells fail to meet the water demands of the increasing population.
In Bhalumunda village under Bongamunda block, 600 households depend on the lone tube well as the ponds have dried up. As a result, womenfolk of the village trek miles to collect drinking water.
It’s just early summer and river Lanth in Belpara, river Arjuni in Bangomunda, river Rahul in Gudvela, river Suktel in Patnagarh and Loisingha blocks have dried up. Tube wells too are dysfunctional, leaving the people at the mercy of water tankers.
What is worrying is that the groundwater table in Bangomunda, Lathore, Sindhekela, Saintala and Muribahal, Titilagarh and Balangir is depleting by the day.
Water crisis has not spared the residents of Balangir and Titilagarh towns, who also face power cuts adding to their woes.
RWSS Executive Engineer Sarat Satpathy said this year the gram panchayats have been empowered to take decisions to deal with water scarcity.
However, the block officials will be provided with technical support and monitoring. The defunct tube wells in rural areas have been repaired and drinking water is being provided in the crisis-hit villages through tankers by the panchayats, he added.