Odisha: By the sea but far away from 'water'

For the last few years, depletion of groundwater level and salinity ingress has emerged as a big problem in the area.
For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)
For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)

KENDRAPARA: Peak summer is yet to arrive but many seaside villages in Mahakalapada block are reeling under severe water shortage. For Haripada Jena of Chanda village, a 1 km trek every morning is a must to avoid drinking dirty water.

“The scorching sun coupled with water shortage has made our lives miserable. Three tube-wells in our village are not functioning since the last one year. Without any option, villagers are forced to trek every day to collect water,” he said.

Villagers of Jagannathpur said they are using contaminated drinking water for the last two years due to faulty sewerage system. The joints of sewerage pipes have loosened, resulting in sewerage seeping into drinking water.

In Gojabandha, Chedakani, Barakanda, Mangalapur, Gualikani, Kumbharapada, Bandhapada, Purusottampur, Gadaromita, Patalipanka, Raghunathpur, Kodakana, Koratapanga and several other villages, every passing day brings a new challenge of access to drinking water.  

Adding to the woes of villagers, ingress of saline water in seaside villages has further aggravated the crisis.

This has led to scarcity of fresh water in summer. Maheswar Das, a native of Gojabandha village says residents are getting salty water from the tube-wells.

For the last few years, depletion of groundwater level and salinity ingress has emerged as a big problem in the area. 

The search for drinking water is a daily routine for women and children in many villages. People walking in serpentine queues with vessels on their heads is a common sight during summer.

Several tube-wells to meet the water needs of villagers were dug but most of them have become defunct. As a result, the villagers are using contaminated water from ponds and rivers.

“Since our village is close to the Bay of Bengal, the amount of salinity in the groundwater is very high,” says Niladri Samal of Barakandha village said. 

Assistant engineer of Rural Water Sanitation Scheme (RWSS) of Mahakalapada block Pratap Kumar Rath said, “Salinity is a major problem in seaside villages. We are providing drinking water through tankers in many villages. Besides, many defunct tube-wells have been repaired.”

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