Barbil/Bhadrak: Even as people in several parts of the state are battling an acute water crisis that has been exacerbated by an unrelenting heatwave, work on some drinking water projects is progressing at a snail’s pace in districts like Keonjhar and Bhadrak with locals nearing their wits’ end over the prolonged delay.
Work on a mega drinking water project in Barbil, for instance, has been going on for several years despite the administration claiming that it has repeatedly tried to speed up the project.
A New Delhi-based contractor was awarded the project of building an 11,000 million litre intake well and water treatment plant in 2011. The project was conceptualized six years back to provide safe drinking water to a large number of residents in mineral-rich Barbil. An estimated Rs 6.38 crore was allocated from the peripheral development fund for the project.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had even laid the foundation stone for the project January 29, 2011 many locals said.
The PHE department and a construction firm from New Delhi entered into an agreement regarding the construction of the project. The private firm had agreed to start work from March 23, 2012 and complete the project by January 22, 2013. There was provision of scrapping the pact if the project got delayed.
However, five years have passed, but the project is still nowhere near completion. The work order with the firm has not been scrapped, it is learnt, which is in contravention with the agreement.
Assistant engineer of Barbil PHED, Baidyanath Majhi, admitted to the slow pace of the project and said only work on the reservoir has been completed.
“The contractor has failed to supply necessary material and manpower. Many other works are lying incomplete. Before the start of the rainy season, there is an urgent need to raise a wall along the bank of the river Karo. If the wall is not done before the monsoon, it will be impossible to complete the work this year too,” the assistant engineer said.
District collector N Tirumala Nayak expressed his helplessness regarding the project. “I had personally prevailed upon the contractor to complete the work in time, but to no avail. Every month, the contractor makes assurances that he will complete the work soon,” Nayak said.
In Agarpada of Bhadrak, another project has been hanging fire for over nine years.
Construction of a drinking water project in Aria panchayat under Bant block in Bhadrak district is yet to be completed. Locals who have been bearing the brunt of the water crisis have expressed their resentment over the issue.
“Two sarpanchs have come and gone. Contractors were changed too. But construction still progresses at a snail’s pace. We have been surviving without safe drinking water for years,” locals said.
Construction work of the RWSS’s drinking water project was taken up in 2008 with an aim of providing water to people living in Aria, Kalapahad, Giridharinagar, Oldanga, Pandado, Padi, Kuanta and Aghiragadia.
Many basic works like bore-wells, house for overhead tanks, installation of electric transformers, and underground pipe-laying were completed, but the contractor who handled the project disappeared before making it operational, locals added.
A new contractor was assigned the work six months back, but work is moving on at a tardy pace, alleged locals. Many standpoints have not been built.
Villagers including Dharanidhar Samal and Narahari Patra said, “Work is going on since nine years, but no one can say for certain when the work will be completed. This is happening due to apathy of the administration.” PNN