Fluoride Action Network

Jharkhand in deep water as crisis worsens in summer

Source: The Times of India | April 23rd, 2013 | By Sanjay Ojha
Location: India

RANCHI: A large part of Jharkhand is facing severe water crisis even before the summer has properly set in. Groundwater level in rural as well as urban areas in the state has decreased

In Siyar village under Gomia block in Bokaro, around 50 tribal families have to tread 1km and stand in a queue for hours every morning to get potable water. There is no well or hand pump in the village.

Jogeshwar Mahato Rangeela of Siyar village said around two years ago the forest department sanctioned Rs 1.62 lakh under special case category for construction of well. “Due to sudden rain, the half-constructed well collapsed and now the project is incomplete. The department has winded up the project and now we are dependent on wells in neighbouring villages,” said Rangeela.

Even after repeated requests to review the project, forest department officials did not act and said since the financial year had ended, and fund had been returned. The situation in the 100 villages in Sahebgunj is no better and residents have to depend on neighbouring villages for drinking water. Most of the hand pumps are defunct for months.

Urban areas in Dhanbad and Ranchi are equally parched. Residents in the two districts have to walk 100-500m daily to fetch water. Deepa Mundu, who was seen carrying water in Pathalkudwa area on Tuesday, said that every day she wastes at least two hours in fetching water.

Sources in the drinking water and sanitation department admitted that more than 50% of the state’s population is facing water crisis. “In the last three-and-a-half months, the department has received more than 500 complaints of faulty hand pumps. The technicians are working to repair them but we have been able to repair only 208,” said a source.

A senior officer in the department, preferring anonymity, said a number of piped water supply schemes in the state are pending because of inter-departmental problems. “Water supply scheme in Koderma, Gumla, Pakur and Mehijam are pending for more than a couple of years as we are not getting land for constructing water tower due to inter-departmental problem. In a meeting with the advisor to the governor and the chief secretary, the matter was raised and it has been decided that deputy commissioner of respective districts will resolve it,” he said.

A large number of people do not have access to safe drinking water as source contains fluoride, arsenic and iron. To address the problem the department has started Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme. “We have installed attachments with hand pumps which remove fluoride and arsenic,” said Sardhendu Narayan, engineer-in-chief at the department.

Narayan said technicians and engineers have been directed to ensure repair of every hand pump before peak summer. “No pump will be left in broken condition for more than 72 hours. In case technicians and engineers ignore the directive, they will have to face action,” said Narayan. He revealed a huge quantity of water is wasted due to leaks in pipes. “We are taking steps to repair all the damaged pipelines before peak summer,” he added.