Jajpur/Bari: Groundwater in the delta region of Bari block in Jajpur district turning saline has sent alarm bells ringing among the residents and farmers in the area, a report said.
Brahmani, Birupa and Genguti rivers forms the delta region in Bari block. Digging of soil leads to oozing out of saline water. It is unfit for drinking, cooking and cultivation.
As a result, over 40,000 residents in Ratnagiri, Mandari, Amathpur and Serpur panchayats under this block are being deprived of clean drinking water. Hundreds of hectares of farmlands have also been rendered uncultivable with farmers abandoning agriculture due to this reason.
Saline water oozed out of the ground when a survey was undertaken for installation of a 200-feet long lift irrigation point at Benjerapur in Mandari panchayat of the block. Residents said that clean drinking water will be available only if over 750 feet deep excavation is carried out.
The residents have drawn the attention of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, irrigation minister, principal secretary, Irrigation and the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) departments towards their plight but to no avail. MLA Adhiraj Panigrahi also raised a question in this regard in the last session of the State Assembly. However, no solution has emerged till date for the problem due to which residents have been forced to use fluoride mixed water.
Reports said that over 10 bore wells each of 200-feet in length have been dug up in Anikana and Mandari revenue villages under Bari block. However, the water pumped out by the bore wells is not conducive for agriculture for which farmers are not interested in taking up cultivation of crops.
Farmers, Raghunath Jena, Bishnu Charan Jena, Shyam Sundar Jena said that cultivation could be taken up in hundred of hectares of farmlands if the Irrigation department helps them in getting clean drinking water. The availability of clean water could benefit the farmers as this is a locality which is famous for vegetable cultivation.
Moreover, drinking water problem is quite acute in the area. There are two piped drinking water supply projects in Patna and Ratnagiri areas under the block. However, the projects are pumping out only saline water.
Residents are suffering a lot as the authorities have not installed any filter in the pipes supplying water. The non-availability of drinking water is a very serious problem for the residents of this panchayat. However, the district administration is yet to take any constructive step to resolve the problem.
Efforts to contact Motilal Tiwari, executive engineer of RWSS department for his response went unanswered. His phone was switched off.
Debasmita Behuria a local resident of the area attributed the problem to the location of the Bari block. She said the locality is 20-25 km from the coastline, so saline water tends to slip into the soil quite easily. She said that government has not taken any steps to ease the plight of the people in Bari block.