BHUBANESWAR: As many as 2,657 habitations in the state do not have safe drinking water as it is contaminated with fluoride and heavy metals among others.
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has given a target to the state government to provide safe drinking water to 800 out of the 2808 villages where ground water found to be hazardous for human health.
Faced with paucity of funds, the state government planned to cover 38 habitations with a population of 16,560 under rural water supply scheme during the current financial year. However, the state has provided safe drinking water to 151 villages with a population of 84,654 by end of October last year.
On the recommendation of NITI Aayog, the Centre sanctioned Rs 1000 crore for mitigation of drinking water quality problems in arsenic and fluoride affected habitations in 2016-17. Odisha’s share was a paltry Rs 2 crore from the central assistance.
Even as 18 of the 30 districts of the state are affected by the problem of ground water contamination, the central assistance was too small to install community water purification plants (CWPPs) in the affected districts, sources in the Rural Development said.
Districts affected by fluoride water include Nuapada, Nayagarh, Khurda, Puri, Angul and Bolangir. While fluoride pollution in Angul is a direct fallout of intense industrial activity in the district, in other area, it has resulted from the presence of underground rocks containing fluoride-bearing minerals.
As the situation in Nuapada district was more acute, the state government installed 605 water defluoridation tubewells in as many habitations as an interim measures before taking up a mega drinking water project.
The state government has taken a loan of Rs.543.63 crore from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for the mega drinking water supply project the western Odisha district.
The project envisaged at supplying of 100 litres per capita per day (lpcd) of drinking water to 1.20 lakh families in the fluoride-affected blocks like Sinapali, Boden, Khariar, Komna and Nuapada.
The NITI Aayog has convened a meeting on January 20 to review the progress of implementation of community water purification plants.
The central assistance for the state under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme in the current fiscal is only Rs 100 crore.
The State Government has made a budgetary allocation of `988.2 crore in 2016-17 for implementation of 600 rural water supply schemes, augmentation of 500 pipe water supply projects, construction of 300 overhead tanks and 500 iron removal units.