Rural Odisha Stares at Drinking Water Crisis

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Article courtesy of Express News Service | June 10, 2015 | The New Indian Express | Shared as educational material

BHUBANESWAR: With the Centre stopping funds for rural water supply scheme and the State Government not providing adequate funds in its budget due to resource crunch, an acute drinking water shortage is likely to develop across thousands of villages in Odisha.

The State Government, which had announced to fulfil the basic minimum needs of people, including drinking water, after BJD came to power for the fourth consecutive time, has a huge task at hand. The alarming situation was separately reviewed by the Government and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently.

As per the latest Census, the State has 1,57,296 habitations but only 9,458 villages are covered under the rural pipe water scheme of National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP). The remaining habitations meet their drinking water requirement from spot sources, including tube-wells and sanitary wells. Though, the Government had planned to cover all the gram panchayats (GP) headquarters under pipe water supply projects during the 11th Plan period, 845 GP headquarters were left out.

Official sources said no rural pipe water scheme can be taken up during 2015-16 because of lack of Central funding under the NRDWP. The Centre and State Government used to provide 50 per cent of the project cost each for implementation of NRDWP.

With only 22 per cent of total habitations covered under pipe water supply scheme and 445 of 6,234 GP headquarters still out of the scheme’s loop, the Government has decided to go for an alternative source of finance for implementation of the water supply scheme.

Though the Government had decided in 2013 to supply pipe water to 1,048 tribal villages in the next three years, not a single project has been completed so far, said sources in ST/SC Development Department.

As per the decision, a budgetary provision of `100 crore was made for the project. On completion, these projects will benefit about one lakh population in tribal dominated Kandhamal, Koraput, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Gajapati, Malkangiri and Rayagada districts.

Despite funds shortage, the Government has decided to take up pipe water supply project in at least one village of left out panchayats during the year.

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