A dry well in Bermo says it all. Picture by Pankaj Singh
It’s the same summer story of ponds and pumps going dry, complaints pouring in from fed-up residents and the authorities trying to mollify them with a host of promises.
Only, the promises are never kept and the 2.5 lakh-odd residents of Bermo subdivision under Bokaro district end up thirsty every summer.
Fed up with the apathetic attitude of the administration, elected representatives of Phusro district board and 24 panchayats covering 57 villages chose to approach newly elected Giridih MP Ravindra Pandey, who lives in Bermo, this time, seeking a concrete solution to the problem.
The delegation, led by district board elected member Shanti Devi, called on the five-time MP on Sunday. They demanded that at least two deep borings be allowed in each panchayat and water drawn from Tenughat canal that caters to Bokaro steel city, Bermo’s twin township.
“More than 80 per cent hand pumps in the subdivision have gone dry in the past two months. Even ponds have become shallow. Residents have no other option but to walk several kilometres in this blistering heat to procure drinking water from river Damodar,” said Shanti Devi.
MP Pandey assured the representatives that he would take up the matter not only at the state level, but also at the Centre where his party, the BJP, is forming the government.
“I am aware of the situation in Bermo and had forked out money from my MPLAD funds to deploy water tankers in the area. I had also taken up the matter with several chief ministers, including former BJP chief minister Arjun Munda. Time and again, I have asked deputy commissioners to prepare projects and am ready to give more funds if a concrete plan takes shape," Pandey added.
Sub-divisional officer R.K. Sinha said they were working on a project.
“We have prepared a detailed project report (DPR) for construction of a water tower in Bermo having the capacity to store 40 lakh gallons. The plan is procure water through deep boring and store it at the water tower. The DPR has been submitted to minister Rajendra Singh (who represents Bermo in the state Assembly) recently and he has promised to get funds,” Sinha said, adding that they were planning to build another water tower in Gomia.
Deputy commissioner Uma Shankar Singh, who received a signed memorandum from the residents along with SDO Sinha, shot letters to coal companies and power stations, including Tenughat Thermal Power Station, Chandrapura Thermal Power Station, Bokaro, Kargali, Dhori and Kathara collieries of CCL, asking them to rush extra water tankers to more than 100 earmarked zones in Bermo.
But residents complained that it was not enough.
“Except for the local market place spread over 2sqkm, the entire Phusro-Bermo zone has gone dry,” complained a resident.
The problem has been compounded with temperatures in the Coal Belt touching 44°C.
Sources said even high-powered pumps were failing to function as the water table had plunged by more than 500 feet.
Not only Bermo township, nearby areas like Karmatand, Sotatand, Jaridih Sarabeda, Bandubeda, Gomia, Sadam, Kurpania, Kathara, Dhori bustee, Kadmadih, Singarbera, Rajabera and Hosir suffer too.
“We are trying our best. The district administration, with help from power stations and CCL, has pressed water tankers into action at 100 places. We also asked PHED engineers to repair all defunct hand pumps. But a permanent solution is the need of the hour,” Singh said.