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As the heat rises in Odisha, water is a scarce commodity

In steel city Rourkela, a massive drinking water crisis is unfolding in the Rourkela Steel Plant township due to the drying up of the river Koel which provides water to the city.

Written by Debabrata Mohanty |
April 20, 2016 8:34:40 pm
 water crisis, water crisis odisha, water scarcity odisha, summer odisha, odisha summers, schools shut in odisha, odisha schools, Koel river odisha, odisha Koel river, drinking water crisis odisha The heat has been so intense that places like Titlagarh in Bolangir district(which recorded the season’s highest 46.5 degree Celsius), Sundargarh and Sonepur have registered temperatures of more than 44 degree C.

With no let-up in intense heatwave conditions in Odisha and over 59 sunstroke deaths being reported across the state, the government yesterday asked all schools in the state to extend their closure till April 26. Early this month, the government had announced closure of schools till April 20 in view of the heatwave.

The state government last month directed the schools to conduct morning classes from April 2 till May 1 as heat wave conditions intensified in the state. The schools were directed to conduct classes from 6.30 am to 10.30 am. The government was left with no choice but to close the schools after the Met department sounded a warning that the mercury was set to rise further from April 22.

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With westerly winds sweeping through the state for the last 12 days the temperature in more than a dozen places in the state has turned them into been cauldrons. The heat has been so intense that places like Titlagarh in Bolangir district(which recorded the season’s highest 46.5 degree Celsius), Sundargarh and Sonepur have registered temperatures of more than 44 degree C.

Odisha always faced a parched summer due to the poor provision of drinking water in rural and urban areas. But this summer it has been worse. In steel city Rourkela, a massive drinking water crisis is unfolding in the Rourkela Steel Plant township due to the drying up of the river Koel which provides water to the city.

Against a demand of 15.5 million gallons per day, RSP is able to supply less than half to its employees. With their taps running dry, people are apparently wary of inviting guests to their home as they can’t offer them a glass of
water. The RSP employees are now queuing up near tube-wells or water tankers. In Keonjhar, two kids allegedly died after drinking contaminated water. In several slums of Bhubaneswar the water crisis has turned serious while several tribal settlements around Byree area of Jajpur district are now being provided with water tankers by
private donors.

Last year, the Comptroller and Auditor General found that drinking water in adequate quantity was not supplied to people in 95 out of 106 urban areas of the state. During 2009-14, 17 water supply projects with project cost of Rs 407.03 crore were sanctioned by the Centre and central assistance for Rs 197.39 crore was received. However, for six projects in Angul, Berhampur, Bhawanipatna, Jharsuguda, Parlakhemundi and Phulbani, central assistance was not released as the Public Health Engineering Organisation failed to utilise 70 per cent of the scheme
fund in time. The CAG audit found that in Bolangir, Bhanjanagar, Berhampur and Rourkela public health divisions, eight water supply works remained incomplete even after eight to 47 months of their starting.

In view of the acute drinking water crisis and intense heatwave, the  Odisha government today announced provision of free drinking water to the poor in all urban areas. An amount of Rs 40 crore has been earmarked for the purpose while the office of Special Relief Commissioner will give another Rs 25 crore. Wherever required water will be provided through tankers. The government will also sink a tubewell in each of the 27,711 areas spending around Rs 195 crore. In rural areas all grampanchayats have been asked to spend 30 per cent of the panchayat funds towards piped water supply.

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