Kendrapara: With as many as seven rivers of the Mahanadi, Brahmani and Baitarani flowing in the district, Kendrapara is still reeling under severe drinking water crisis, a report said Sunday. Despite, the riverine waterway that is the second largest in Odisha, the district is heading towards unprecedented water crisis.
As per official data of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) department, the coastal district also has at least 17,238 tubewells, 331 projects as well as 181 overhead tanks to cater to the drinking water requirements of the residents, a source informed.
Earlier, Kendrapara was identified by the Central government under its ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’ as the lone district in Odisha facing acute drinking water crisis. Accordingly, provision was then made to recharge the available groundwater in the district, but to no avail.
The condition is so worse to the extent that the Central government’s ambitious ‘Har Ghar Jal’ by the year 2024 seems to be a day-dream for the denizens here.
According to social activists Sunil Gantayat, Bibhuti Bhusan Rout, Pratap Ranjan Tripathy, Debashis Samal and Prakash Chandra Das, drinking water is a major crisis in Kendrapara district. Being a coastal district, its ground water tastes salty. The constructed water tanks mostly remain dry.
Digging tubewell costs around Rs 3 lakh and usually saline water comes out. Waters from the Mahanadi, Brahmani and Baitarani river systems are usually used by local industries and farmlands.
Ground water has substantially depleted in the district and a possibility of its recharge is very thin. Previous reports of the Central and state Water Resource departments have revealed that the ground water in Garadpur block is not usable for drinking purposes.
Similarly, Aul, Rajnagar and Rajkanika blocks in Kendrapara district have no irrigation canal at all. Due to lack of recharge of the groundwater, the drinking water crisis has been looming large like that of Mahakalpara block, the social activists mentioned.
There seems to be lack of coordination between local political leaders and the administrative officials. In several cases, mega drinking water projects have suffered the administrative impasse between different departments, the local social activists alleged.
When contacted, the RWSS executive engineer in Kendrapara Basant Nayak said, “Different mega projects are underway for providing piped drinking water to households in rural areas. However, the construction works had slowed down following the Covid-19 outbreak.”
Now, the construction works have resumed. Certainly, target for ‘Har Ghar Jal’ yojana will be met on time, the RWSS engineer said.
It is pertinent to mention, in 2019, Kendrapara was included under ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’ as the lone district in Odisha. Priority was given to fit sucking pipe to the pit of each tubewell, to take up afforestation drives, conserve rainwater and restore discarded water bodies.
It has been targeted under the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ yojana to provide piped drinking water to 2,91,160 households in Kendrapara district by 2024. As of date, only 33,000 families have been benefited.
A number of mega drinking water projects are underway in the district, in order to provide piped water to the denizens. However, a mega project at Manikunda under Marshaghai block of Kendrapara was not duly inspected for land and environment issues before its construction was started. As a result, the project got entangled in a litigation of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and its construction was halted.