|Protesters outside the BMC office in Bhubaneswar on Monday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati
Bhubaneswar, June 11: Hundreds of residents of Bhaktamadhu Nagar, mostly women carrying empty buckets on their heads, surrounded the office of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) today protesting against the civic body’s inability to supply water by tankers to the area which has no pipe water supply.
The residents of the area, that falls under ward No. 30, demonstrated for more than two hours. They alleged that despite protests, the corporation had not taken steps to send water tankers to their area where wells and other water resources were drying up.
“All the wells have dried up and the tube wells are lying defunct. We have approached the BMC and the Public Health Engineering Organisation (PHEO) for water tankers but they have been passing the buck to each other,” said Radharani Moharana, a homemaker.
Sources said after repeated requests, the BMC had sent a water tanker which could meet the needs of 50 families on June 6. This tanker, alleged residents, was hijacked by the local corporator, who distributed the water among his supporters.
“We informed the BMC officials about it but they did nothing,” said Benudhara Moharana, another local resident. However, the corporator, Hrudaya Ballav Samantray, denied the allegations. “For the past 10 days, one water tanker has been coming to the area. Last Friday, they had sent two tankers. The allegations against me are false,” said Samantray.
However, BMC officials said the problem had been sorted out. “We have made arrangements for supply of sufficient drinking water to the area,” said BMC secretary Debashis Mohanty.
The heat wave-like conditions in the city has resulted in many areas facing a shortage of drinking water. The problem was acute in localities where there was no pipe-water supply. Localities such as Dumduma, Jagamara, Gandamunda, Pokhariput, Bhimtangi, Sundarpada, Kapilaprasad and Tankapani Road were the most affected.
Apart from residential areas, people who maintain the “jalachatras” (temporary drinking water kiosks) said the corporation had failed to provide sufficient water to these kiosks. While the kiosks are managed by private parties, the BMC is supposed to provide drinking water and a small piece of land for setting them up. This summer, the BMC has set up as many as 78 drinking water kiosks with the collaboration of various voluntary organisations in the city.
BMC sources said four water tankers had been deployed to provide drinking water to the water kiosks and residential areas facing water shortage. “Six water tankers are being provided to fill the drinking water kiosks everyday and 10 tankers are taking care of the areas with water problems,” said a senior BMC official.