Kendrapara: Although seven distributaries of Mahanadi, Brahmani and Baitarani flowing in Kendrapara district, the coastal area is still reeling from severe drinking water crisis, a report said.
As per official data of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) department, the coastal district has at least 17,238 tub wells, 331 drinking water projects and 181 overhead tanks to cater to the water requirements of the residents. The district also has riverine waterway which is the second largest in Odisha.
Earlier, the Union government, under its ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’, had identified Kendrapara as the lone district in Odisha facing acute drinking water crisis. Accordingly, provision was made to recharge the groundwater in the district. However, resolution of water crisis remains a far cry.
The situation is so worse that the Centre’s plan to provide piped water to every household by 2024 under its ambitious scheme ‘Har Ghar Jal’ seems to be a daydream.
Social activists Sunil Gantayat, Bibhuti Bhusan Rout, Pratap Ranjan Tripathy, Debashis Samal and Prakash Chandra Das alleged that drinking water is a major crisis in Kendrapara. Being a coastal district, its groundwater has salinity. Moreover, the water tanks constructed in the district mostly remain dry.
Construction of a tubewell costs around Rs 3 lakh. Even if a tubewell is dug, its water tastes salty. Water from Mahanadi, Brahmani and Baitarani river systems are used by local industries and farmlands.
Groundwater has substantially depleted and a possibility of its recharge is very thin. Previous reports of the Water Resource departments of the Centre and the state have revealed that the groundwater in Garadpur block is unfit for drinking purposes.
Similarly, Aul, Rajnagar and Rajkanika blocks have no irrigation canal at all. Due to lack of recharge of 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 apathy, they alleged.
When contacted, Kendrapara RWSS executive engineer 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. We are hopeful that the target for ‘Har Ghar Jal’ yojana will be met on time,” the RWSS engineer said.