Tribal people hit by water shortage
Malkangiri: Manguli Sisa of Kichapada village has to walk a long distance downhill to get to the nearest stream. If she does not, she and her family will have to go without water. So is the case with Budai Sisa of Dantipada village.
For these Bonda women, these streams located far from their habitat flowing down the Bonda hill, are the only sources of drinking water in the district.
But what has made their problem even more severe is the rising temperature. However, these families, living in around 25 villages at Bonda hill, have no other choice either. With the heat at its peak and water sources drying up fast, almost all villages located on the hill-top are facing acute water shortage. The defunct tube-wells have further added to their woes.
Bondas are one of the ancient tribes of Odisha and are divided into two groups - the Lower Bonda tribe and the Upper Bonda tribe. While, the lower Bonda tribal people live on the foothills of Bonda hills, the Upper Bonda tribals still untouched by modern civilisation live in the hill range spread over 130sqkm in 32 villages under Mudulipada and Andrahal panchayats of Khairput block.
The population of the tribal people here stands a little more than 6,000. Bondas mostly depend on three major natural water sources - located at Mudulipada, Bodpada and Bondapada - on the Bonda hill which is more than 4,000 metres above the sea-level.
A source allege while natural water bodies are getting dry, out of 18 open-wells and 30 tube wells dug by the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) department in the Bonda hills, most of them are lying defunct due to non-maintenance. The water-level in a few functional tube wells and wells is below normal forcing Bonda women to trek a few miles to collect water.
Bondas living at Tulaguram, Bodopada and Bodabala are better-off as families living in these villages are covered by pipe-water supplied by Bonda Development Agency, a minor project that is in force since 1977 for development of the tribe.
"There is acute water problem in the area. Bonda women must walk long distances to fetch water from the streams. Some of the tube-wells that do work in the area provide water having high iron-content," said Kalia Pradhan, a local resident.
"Repair of defunct tube-wells has already began in Bonda hills and soon the water problem of the area will be solved," said a senior official of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation.