The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Odisha government to file an action taken report (ATR) over the acute shortage of safe drinking water in many villages of Kalahandi, Nuapada and Bolangir districts, depriving people of the right to lead a life with dignity.
Taking cognizance of a complaint filed by rights activist Dillip Kumar Das of Bhawanipatna quoting newspaper reports in the matter, the NHRC has sought an ATR from the Odisha chief secretary within four weeks.
The activist in his complaint had said high fluoride content in water in the plain areas and high iron content in hilly areas are the major causes behind the crisis of safe drinking water that these districts face.
90 percent of Kalahandi district’s population, which lives in the villages, is thus deprived of access to safe drinking water, he told the Commission.
Although a good amount of funds is available to the government under different schemes to address the issue, no action has been initiated by the district administration to deal with the problems of high fluoride and iron content in drinking water, the petitioner had stated in his complaint filed with the Commission.
In his petition, Das said the presence of these harmful elements in drinking water has resulted in a majority of the population in these districts suffering from kidney and bone related ailments.
The activist pointed out that as people in the hilly areas in these districts have no other option than depend on water from local streams for their daily water needs, hundreds of valuable lives are lost during the rainy season every year due to water borne diseases like jaundice, typhoid, diarrhea and cholera, which often take epidemic proportions.