Jajpur: Three weeks after Orissa POST carried a report on the alarming fall of the groundwater level in industrial rich Jajpur district, the engineer in chief of Rural Drinking Water Supply & Sanitation (RWSS) took serious note of the problem and asked additional secretary of panchyatraj and drinking water department to take preventive measures against exploitation of groundwater and its conservation.
The newspaper published a report titled “State Government’s action plan to check groundwater wastage in Jajpur district fails to kick off” in its October 10 edition this year. As per the report, groundwater level is fast depleting across Jajpur district due to its exploitation by the industries.
Expressing concern over the drastic fall in groundwater, the engineer in chief of RWSS in a letter (No 6083/10 and 3474/1) instructed the departmental executive engineer in 2016 to make an action plan to recharge the same, making it free of pollution.
Though three years have passed, no action on the proposal has been taken. Another report said water sources in Jajpur district are fast becoming unfit for human consumption with groundwater becoming toxic.
An excess deposit of iron, total coliform and faecal coliform have been traced in groundwater. The claim is not unfounded as hundreds of people have died of kidney ailments in industrial and mining regions of the district over last 10 years while thousand others battle with the ailments due to consumption of toxic water over a long period of time.
Not only Jajpur, but every district in Odisha is facing the same problem. The surface water level is falling across the state with groundwater level depleting. Some of the water bodies have ceased to exist.
The issue of falling groundwater was raised in the State Assembly in 2016. Members had urged the government to maintain coordination among departments like water resources, rural development, agricultural, forest and environment departments and chalk out a plan to recharge groundwater. But till now the government has not taken any constructive step to solve the problem.
Deforestation, excess pumping and use of groundwater by industries are main causes of the drastic fall in groundwater level. Industries in both Keonjhar and Jajpur districts are guilty of polluting water from the Brahmani and Baitarani rivers. The industries indiscriminately release their effluents to these rivers. As a result, river beds and streams get polluted.
Farmers as well as general people are affected due to depletion of groundwater. Various outfits and intellectuals have urged the government to take a serious note of the issue and start immediate measures to arrest the falling groundwater level.