JORABAT, April 26 - Even as summer is fast approaching and scarcity of drinking water has hit the region, the State Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) has admitted that a number of water supply projects in different villages of Dimoria region have been lying defunct for years.
The entire Dimoria region alone has as many as 135 water supply projects in different villages and habitations. Out of those, only a handful projects are functioning at present.
With the PHED failing to restore the non-functional projects, the situation has turned grave as the villagers have turned to unhygienic sources of drinking water, thus exposing themselves to serious health hazards.
The previous government had launched one scheme after another spending huge amounts of money to provide safe drinking water to the public. Sadly though, a large number of those schemes after running for some time, went defunct. This has hit the people hard.
Negligence by the PHED and unpaid power bills are considered to be two main reasons for most of the schemes becoming non-functional. Due to lack of maintenance, the filters, tanks and other infrastructure of the water supply projects have now become home to straw, leaves, dirt, etc.
Affected locals of different villages have alleged that some PHED officials were involved in some sort of a scam as they deliberately did not keep track of the poor quality equipment installed during construction and setting-up of the projects. Consequently, after running erratically for some time, most of the schemes went defunct. Sadly enough, no tangible step has been taken by the people concerned to restore the schemes.
Adding to the misery of the people of Dimoria, the non-salaried staff working in the water supply projects started neglecting their duties, including maintenance of the infrastructure and equipment, as the government allegedly did not meet their demand for making their jobs secure. This led to a further deterioration in the condition of the water supply projects.
Interestingly, and in a somewhat bizarre development, the premises of the piped water supply project at Sarutari in Sonapur which has been lying defunct for the last two years, have been let out on rent by the person engaged to look after the project.
Again, the 13th Mile Tamulikuchi water supply project near Jorabat that was inaugurated by the then PHE Minister Rihon Daimari, has been lying defunct since its inception. The local residents of Tamulikuchi alleged that they have not received water for even a single day.
In yet another case, the Moragdola water supply project near Sonapur which was installed with a huge amount of taxpayers� money (around Rs 62 lakh), has been lying defunct for the last nine years. These days the premises of this project are being used for drying clothes of a family living nearby.
Likewise, the 14th Mile Tamulikuchi water supply project has been lying defunct for the last five years. The water pump and some electrical equipment of this project are said to be beyond repair.
The affected residents of 13th Mile Tamulikuchi have asked the present government to make its stand clear vis-a-vis the whole matter. They minced no words in terming it a scam facilitated by the previous Congress government. They have demanded of the present government to order a thorough probe into the matter.
When contacted, Sub Divisional Officer (SDO), Guwahati Division-I of PHE Prakash Haloi said that as per official data, a total of 32 piped water supply projects out of 135 are lying defunct in Dimoria region. But he failed to provide specific information on the reasons behind the projects lying defunct.
Haloi has meanwhile directed his subordinate officers to find out the reasons behind every defunct project and assured that he would personally visit the project sites.
But, contrary to the official data available with the SDO, a survey conducted recently by the Dimoria unit of the All Assam Students� Union (AASU) revealed that more than 100 projects have been lying defunct for years. The student body has for long been demanding revival of the non-functional projects.