Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Mar 29:
While devotees have already started streaming in for the mega Nabakalebara Yatra of Lord Jagannath into Odisha’s holy town Puri, scarcity of drinking water stands as the biggest challenge for the pilgrim town.
Against a daily requirement of 6 crore liters of drinking water, the town manages a to get a meagre 2.7 crore liters of drinking water from different sources, which is a shortfall of 55 percent against the total requirement, according to information available from the Water Resources department.
Though a plan was drawn up for construction of a canal project from Kathapola to Mangalaghat to supply water to Puri town from river Bhargavi it still remains to be implemented. Moreover, the 17 overhead water tanks in the town which have more or less been rendered useless stare mocking at the thirsty residents of the town.
The state government expects more than 50 lakh visitors to the town during the Nabakalebara festival since the town doesn’t have enough hotels and dharamshalas it has encouraged locals to rent out their premises to the visitors.
Even the temple administration has planned for pitching tents to provide temporary shelter to visitors during the mega event.
The government which is concerned over the stay of visitors during the grand festival it has paid no attention to the food and drink needs of the guests.
While supply of drinking water during the harsh summer remains the most important thing, the state government’s efforts in this regard in Puri for the forthcoming mega event is not encouraging.
The state government has eight years back planned to bring water through a canal into the town and store it in a reservoir and after its purification supply it to the residents of the town from the 17 over head tanks.
Even funds for the project were sanctioned under Central schemes. Also for controlling traffic flow into the town 200mtr road was planned on the canal’s embankment. As it happens in the case of many plans that remain in paper only this plan too has met with the same fate.
Urban and Housing Development Minister Puspendra Singhdeo had held a review meeting in February on the issue of provision of drinking water to visitor to the town.
The Minister had said that drinking water in the town will be tested though a laboratory in the town.
The Minister had then directed the collector to ban sale of water pouches and packaged drinking water not having ISI mark in the town.
While according to information available from the Water Resources department 1200 tube wells and 200 deep bore wells have been sunken in the town none have bothered to enquire into the status of the plan to bring water to the town through the canal.