Kaptipada: With summer fast approaching residents of Gajapathar village under Labanyadeipur panchayt and Ashwakuti village under Sarat panchayat in Kaptipada block of Mayurbhanj district are once again bracing themselves for another season of acute water scarcity.
Gajapathar has a small pond and a tube well as its drinking water sources. Every summer these two dry up forcing the villagers to collect water from small shallow wells dug up on river bed.
“In summer we have no option but to bathe in muddy water. We are also forced to drink contaminated water. So we suffer from stomach-related diseases and skin problems,” alleged villagers among who were Ray Singh and Puja Singh.
“The administration has failed to set up another tube well in spite of repeated requests. So we face acute problems. A water tanker visits our village twice every day. But then that is not sufficient,” the villagers stated. “Often women travel half-a-kilometre to collect water from shallow wells,” they added.
Similarly Aswakuti village also doesn’t have any source of water. The villagers bring water from a tube well in Aswakuti Tala sahi which is half-a-kilometre away from the village.
“If people have to depend on ‘chua’ (shallow wells) and creeks to get drinking water even after 72 years of independence, then one can very well imagine, how much development we have had,” said Tura Singh, a villager.
In summer, the villagers face problems to arrange drinking water for their domestic livestock. They usually take their cattle to a stream located two kilometres away from the village.
Villagers also pointed out that the water they take from the shallow well on the riverbed is usually contaminated. “There have been cases when animals have fallen into the wells contaminating the water. If the administration at least maintains these wells, it would be a great help to us,” they observed.
When contacted, an engineer on the condition of anonymity said he is aware of the drinking water problem the villagers face every year. “Soon steps would be taken to address the problem,” he said.
How quickly will the ‘soon’ happen is a million dollar question though.