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Water woes in fighting blaze

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GAUTAM SARKAR IN BHAGALPUR   |     |   Published 06.04.13, 12:00 AM

The scarcity of water at the onset of summer has not only made life difficult for thousands of people but also posed a threat to fire-fighting.

On Thursday, villagers of Birbalpur at Dhoriya block in Banka were left helpless in fighting a blaze. The fire killed an eight-year-old, Yasmin, and gutted more than 100 houses. “Had there been any water, we would have saved Yasmin. She was burnt inside the house but we were helpless,” said Mohammad Salim, the father of the deceased.

In another incident at Millatnagar village on the same day, fire tenders faced difficulties in arranging water to douse a blaze. “There was no source of water in the village. There are no ponds or wells within a radius of 12-15km of the village. Of six tubewells in the two villages, only one was functioning. We felt helpless after the water in our tank finished and we could not arrange for more,” said a fireman.

The paucity of water has also affected an Indira Awas Yojana scheme in Banka. The district administration has set a deadline to build 7,146 dwellings. However, more than 50 per cent of the work remains incomplete, as water is required for the construction. “We have to walk 5-9km daily to find drinking water. The block office puts pressure on us to complete the work quickly. Water is also required for construction,” said Mangal Besra of Jaipur hamlet under Katoria block.

According to a survey conducted by the tola sevaks (junior ranking employees) under panchayats in Banka, more than 50 per cent of the Indira Awas Yojana are not completed in villages falling under Maoist-ravaged blocks like Katoria, Bounsi, Chandan, Rajoun, Belhar and Fullidoomar owing to scarcity of water. The report also stated that residents of more than 500 villages have to 12-15km daily in search of drinking water.

On the pressure by the administration to complete the dwellings soon, the deputy development commissioner, Banka Prabhu Ram, said all the block development officers had been asked to supervise the completion of the units.

S.S. Dayal, the executive engineer, public health engineering department, Jamui, said they would install five tube wells each in all 153 panchayats in the district.


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