As the temperature soars and the scorching heat cripples life, water has turned into a mirage for a large number of rural pockets across the State. Defunct tube-wells, dried-up river beds and inadequate drinking water supply by the local administrations, the grueling summer has only accentuated the crisis in water-starved villages.
In Nuapada district, women set out on a 2 km trek to a small pit to collect water for daily use. Piped water supply to these villages has reportedly been stopped for the last two months. Nimna and Boirgaon, the two tribal dominated villages under Boden block, have a population of 400 and 500 people respectively. While many basic amenities elude these two villages, the scarcity of water challenges their survival.
Hundreds of women walk to a farm land to collect water unaware if whether the water is fit for human use. Usually, women are seen queuing up from 4 am in the morning to fetch a vessel of water. This apart, when the water level goes down, they even have to get down to the bottom to collect water.
Block Development Officer (BDO), Boden, Purna Chandra Bhoi acknowledged the problem and said he has asked the Rural Drinking Water Supply & Sanitation (RWSS) Division to look into it.“The water connection has been disconnected due to the road work but will be restored within 3-4 days. We have asked the villagers to use the tube-well until then.” However, the villagers claim the tubewell water is unfit for use.
Balangir too is reeling under a similar crisis. In Bangomunda block, villagers of Bhalumunda depend on the lone tube-well which caters to 600 households and long queues to collect water are a common sight. In Chandutora village under the same block, women collect water in a phased manner as there are only three tube-wells for a population of over 2,000. Besides, all four streams nearby have completely dried up. Bangomunda apart, the situation in Belpada, Gudvela, Khaprakhol and Turekela blocks is no different.
Town areas like Titlagarh and Kantabanji NAC are also suffering due to depleting groundwater level and insufficient supply of drinking water through tankers.Sources said, incomplete drinking water projects in areas like Jogimunda village of Patnagarh block are worsening the situation as well. The project was started two years back and `2.9 crore was reportedly spent on it, but there has been no progress yet. The dug-up well here is unable to cater to all the villagers. Likewise, Khutulimunda village in Loisingha block has three tube-wells which cater to 3,000 people.
Superintending engineer of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) Division Saroj kumar Satpathy said this year, gram panchayats are empowered to deal with the water scarcity and the situation is being monitored by block and district level officials.
Apart from technical support and monitoring, repairing of dysfunctional tube wells are the first priority, he said.Meanwhile, Turekela BDO Debashish Samantroy said he has formed a team to deal with the water crisis situation of the block.