Protests galore as people take to the streets for a potful of water

The drinking water crisis in the Anantapur district is in such state of severity that not a day passes without atleast one protest per mandal with agitated women in the forefront.

“We have not received any drinking water supply for three days now and none of the officials have turned up at least with an explanation. Neither the gram panchayat officials or the Rural water supply officials have bothered to restore supply,” said Fathima Bi of the Obuladevara Cheruvu (ODC) mandal headquarters even as she joined in protest along with other women, demanding that water supply be restored immediately and maintained thereafter continually.

Traffic on the busy Kadiri–Gorantla road was affected following the protest.

The ODC and the Nallamada mandal have been perennially identified as the worst affected mandals with regards to drinking water and have remained so till date, which has meant years of troubles and compromised health for the people of the region.

On the whole, of a total habitation count of more than 3,000, over 1,200 habitations have been bracketed as severely affected.

In most villages, the major problem currently is the suspension of water tanker services due to want of funds.

Speaking to The Hindu, District Collector V. Durga Das agreed that more than half the district is reeling under severe drinking water crisis due to the severe drought conditions and truant rainfall the preceding year.

Seeking to allay fears over the water transportation front, he said that he had directed the Zilla Parishad and the Panchayat Raj Department to use funds close to Rs. 5 crore for immediately rescuing people from the claws of acute water shortage.

Rs. 3 crore sanctioned

“We have submitted proposals for Rs. 5 crore under the Contingency Relief Fund (CRF) and Rs. 20 crore from the non-CRF funds to tide over the crisis. We have learnt that Rs. 3 crore has been sanctioned,” said Mr. Das even as he said that he had conveyed to the in-charge Minister that another Rs. 5 crore were immediately needed to meet the pressing needs.

The Collector also said that the district administration had identified 35 private transporters to ensure prompt supply of drinking water to the worst hit villages with immediate effect and added that funds were not a constraint.

On the other hand, he said, proposals have been sent to the government to enable it to use the Rs. 7.5 crore funds lying with the district administration under the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF), which could come in handy.

Notwithstanding all this, a solution to the drinking water crisis, in spite of the mega drinking water projects in the district, has remained elusive till date.