Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 9:
Concerned over drinking water crisis in the impending summer months the Odisha government has decided to soon appoint ‘water observers’ at state and district levels.
These ‘water observers’ will submit independent inspection reports on maintenance of piped drinking water projects and tube wells on a regular basis, informed Chief Secretary A P Padhi to reporters after holding a review meeting with District Collectors via video conferencing at the state secretariat here on Wednesday.
While ‘water observers’ at the district level will be appointed by District Collectors, the ones at the state level will be appointed by Planning and Coordination Department, said an official source.
Drinking water is being supplied to 38,000 habitations in the state through piped water supply projects and 4.16 lakh tube wells covering about 41% of the state’s population, Padhi said.
The Chief Secretary pointed out that there needs to be proper coordination and cooperation between block, panchayat and Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) for timely maintenance of piped water supply projects and tube wells.
Moreover, reports published in the media will be examined and accordingly, action will be taken, Padhi said.
Principal Secretary Rural Development Department Madhusudan Padhi who was also present at the briefing said that there is no dearth of funds for the supply of drinking water and maintenance of such projects.
He informed that each panchayat is getting Rs 16-25 lakh on this account from the Central Finance Commission adding that additional funds have been provisioned for water deficit villages.
Padhi said very soon control rooms on drinking water supply will be opened in districts.
Special emphasis will be laid on the supply of drinking water, maintenance of drinking water projects and implementation of standard operating procedure (SOP).
Notably, with rivers, canals, ponds and other water bodies drying up even before the onset of summer, the government is worried and is on an overdrive to start new plans and programmes to thwart public resentment.
While the Panchayati Raj Department Principal Secretary had written to District Collectors on this account on February 28, Chief Secretary had written to all District Collectors on how to tackle drinking water problem and the SOP to be adopted on March 4.