35.4 p.c. families walk more than half a kilometre for precious liquid

The State's much-hyped development through industrialisation seems to have brought little qualitative change in lives of people in rural regions.

If one goes through figures of the house-listing and housing census-2011, the statement holds true. The census finds increase in number of families those walk more than half kilometre distance to fetch drinking water during past one decade.

According to the State's house-listing and housing census-2011, as high as 35.4 per cent of total households were found to be travelling more than 500 metres from their houses to get drinking water compared to 30.8 per cent of total households in 2001. The Census was released here on Saturday.

“About 38.54 per cent of households in rural areas are collecting the drinking water in a distance of 500 metre or more from their residence,” said Bishnupada Sethi, Director of Census Operation, Odisha.

If the percentages are converted into actual figures, about 45,16,686 families had drinking water sources more than 500 metre away from their houses as per 2011-census compared to 30,44,884 in 2001. It means 14,71,802 families have become vulnerable as far as access to drinking water is concerned.

More than half of Kandhamal's rural families walk more than 500 metres to fetch drinking water.

During past one decade, the growth in number of such households has gone up by more than 17 per cent – helplessness has become more acute.

Districts where drinking water sources seems to be moving away from households are Deogarh, Sundargarh, Dhenkanal, Keonjhar, Mayurbhhanj, Subarnapur, Balangir and Kalahandi.

“The census does not reflect the exact distance people travel for drinking water. In remote areas of Sundargarh, Kandhamal and Bolangir the situation is worse. Womenfolk walk around 5 km. to draw drinking water,” said Ranjan Panda, a water activist.

Mr. Panda said, “the 500-metre travelling does not mean people are getting quality drinking water.

Had the quality parameter been taken into account, the figure would have been much higher.

Access to water is limited to people in a few urban locations.” The house-listing and housing census-2011 finds that there has been decrease in number of families travelling more than half kilometre for drinking water in urban areas.

It has come down from 21.1 per cent of total households in 2001 to 18.5 per cent of total households of 2011 census.

Mr. Sethi said, “about 77.4 per cent of households are using tap, tubewell, hand pump and covered well as the main source of drinking water. Only 22.4 per cent of households have source of water within the premises.”

“Among the districts, the highest of 30.1 per cent of households in Khurda district are using tap water whereas the lowest of 4.2 per cent households are using tap water in Bhadrak,” he said.

Development Commissioner R. N. Senapati and Revenue and Disaster Management Secretary Tara Datt were present on the occasion.

Keywords: censusdrinking waterOdisha