Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 11:
In the wake of the death of three persons in Bolangir district in the last one week, the Odisha government has warned executive engineers of Public Health deprtment that they would be held responsible for the outbreak of the killer water-borne disease in their areas.
“The department has prepared the file to this effect for action against the executive engineer of Bolangir PH Division, which would be approved in a day or two,” Urban Development minister Pushpendra Singhdeo informed the media on Sunday.
Besides, it has been decided that the PH executive engineers would be held responsible for outbreak of jaundice in any district of the state for which the department would write a letter to the district collectors very soon, he informed.
It may be mentioned that the outbreak of jaundice in Sambalpur had triggered uproar in the State Assembly with members cutting across party lines demanding a clarification from the Urban Development department following a series of reports published in the media.
However, it had no effect on the department. Besides, the state government is yet to clarify why it had not taken any preemptive measures and what steps the chief minister has taken on the status of the drinking water during his visit to several districts after the outbreak of jaundice in Sambalpur.
Meanwhile, chief engineer, Public Health, Khitish Chandra Sahu on Sunday told the media that since the drinking water to Bolangir town is supplied from Sonepur, which is at a distance of 54 km, it has become extremely difficult to know the reasons for the contamination of water.
Though he admitted that 12 cracks in the pilepline have been noticed in the recent past, there is no reply from any official why the department did not take any step in time to repair or replace these pipelines in time.
Sahu said there is a need to replace the exiting pipelines in Bolangir town most of which were laid more than 30 years ago.
He also said the department will prepare a report on the number of pipelines in other districts which were laid 30 years ago.
However, experts are of the opinion that the Urban Development department should have been more alert following the jaundice outbreak in Sambalpur.
Though there were proposals from other districts for replacement of old pipelines, the state government had neither taken any steps and nor made budgetary allocations for replacement of these old pipelines.
Though the PH department has decided to prepare a list of old pipelines in all districts, it is not possible for the state government to make budget allocations for this in the current fiscal.
A senior PH official, requesting anonymity, said his department is now in a shambles as there has been frequent political interference in the appointment of engineers.
He, however, informed that the chief minister will review these issues after his return from New Delhi.