Odisha Will Face Major Scarcity of Water This Summer

Bhubaneswar: Jal Jeevan Mission aims to achieve a 100 per cent clean water supply all across Odisha. The Village Action Plan is supposed to accomplish piped water supply to all by 2024. Yet, till now about 42 per cent of villages in the State lack any action plans.

This is ironic to mention that around 1.5 crore population in Odisha will suffer a dearth of water this summer. The progress of the water mission in the State seems to be drowning and there is no adequate action being taken.

Moreover, the crisis of drinking water is going to be even more extreme in Odisha this summer because the State has been a deficient rainfall (37 per cent) in March. As per the current weather report, there will be below-normal rainfall in April. The bad news for the poor people in Odisha is that more than 95 per cent of the population depend on groundwater (borewell/tubewell), and as per a recent survey report, almost 45 per cent of the wells in the state have recorded a drop in water level by 2 meters.

According to the data given by the Odisha Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water Department, more than 1.49 lakh population in the State are depending on groundwater supplies like borewells or tubewell for all their water needs, along with drinking water. Other 278 people rely on water supplied from borewells/tubewells source water from the river beds, which are inadequate to supply water to the people during the summer.

As per the government data, a total of 3,510 residents in the State are unable to access 40 litres of water per head per day throughout the year. Around 8.52 lakh people have to go through drinking water crises all through the year.

No matter how rigorously the State Government insists on over 1.53 lakh people being procured with 40 litres of water per capita each day, the reality is there are almost 61,870 population are living in the situation of an acute water crisis which particularly drops below 40 lpcd during the summer seasons. So as a result of the scenario more than 1.4 crore people in Odisha will be going through a tough time with an acute water shortage in the month of April-May this year.

As the date say, in the dish, there are only 37.17 lakh households that yet have connections to piped water, so it is evident that around 51 lakh households do not have piped water connections. Approximately 58 per cent of the households do not get safe and clean drinking water in our state.

The Jal Shakti Ministry indicates the progress and status of safe water accessibility across the state. Odisha got an allocation of 3,323 crores in the year 2021-22, under the Jal Jeevan Mission.

The fund released from the central government to Odisha for water facilities in the state was underutilised as per the report. The Centre has released Rs 1661.7 crores to the State but only Rs 826.56 crore was seem to be utilised, which is just 50 per cent of the allocation. On the contrary, other states such as Gujarat and Kerala have attained a 75 per cent utilisation rate.

The reason why the state stands to underutilise the funds allocated is to the Jal Shakti Ministry, lack of durable local source of water specifically in drought-prone areas, the shortfall in matching state share and delay in transfer of funds.

The provisions of forming a Village Action Plan (VAP) for the functioning of the water supply to every village under the Jal Jeevan Mission, are lagging. The Parliamentary Standing Committee is critical of Odisha about water resources for poor performance in forming Village Water Sanitation Committee (VWSC) or preparing VAP.

This scenario is directed towards the sluggish physical progress of JJM and less utilization of funds coming from the centre. The more worrying reality is that the state government has set a deadline to provide piped water connections to all households across the state by 2024.