Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sambalpur, Dec 24:
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today announced a Rs 100 crore package for an underground piped water supply project for the western Odisha city of Sambalpur apart from a slew of other measures to contain the alarming spread of jaundice in the city.
After holding a review meeting on the alarming situation arising out of spread of jaundice here with the district administration, the Chief Minister announced a Rs 60 crore package for renovation of three nullahs – Dhobijor, Haradjor and Tangana – that drain into river Mahanadi.
Chief secretary Gokul Chandra Pati, Health secretary Arati Ahuja, Sambalpur collector Balwant Singh and other senior officials of concerned departments were present at the meeting.
Patnaik announced that those affected with jaundice will be provided with free diagnostics, treatment and medicines, besides free distribution of halogen tablets and bleaching powder in the affected areas.
It was decided at the meeting to set up 5 to 6 plastic water tanks of 6 lakh litres capacity each as an adhoc measure to provide safe drinking water in the affected areas of the town. Moreover, 50 community toilet blocks with 500 toilet seats in each will be set up in different areas to stop people from defecating in the open. Open defecation is a major problem in certain areas of Sambalpur town.
A state level team of experts will be stationed in the town for regular testing of blood as well as water samples, the Chief Minister said.
It was also decided at the meeting to go for an ultra-modern sewerage disposal/treatment project for Sambalpur.
Lastly, the Chief Minister said that a formal notification declaring VSS Medical College and Hospital in Burla as an autonomous institution will be made on January 1 next year.
Critics, however, said the Chief Minister’s announcements and visit was aimed at the forthcoming elections to the Sambalpur municipality, which has been declared as a corporation by the Naveen Patnaik government. They termed it as an exercise to put in order the eroding base of the BJD in the town in view of the situation arising out of the outbreak of jaundice, which has claimed 21 lives according to unofficial figures.
The official figure, however, remains 17 with more than 1200 affected, most of them from the common class which votes.