‘Why isn’t lack of safe drinking water a poll issue?’
With every political party busy in poll battle issues of basic amenities such as access to safe drinking water have taken a back seat, feel many villagers of Uttar Pradesh -- the most populous state of the country.
Lack of access to safe piped water has left people excessively dependent on hand-pumps and bore-wells, many of which are contaminated sources, said Nitin Tripathi, a poll management professional.
“The state with 2.59 crore rural households has only 3.34 lakh piped water supply connections -- a mere 1.29%. Still, it is not an election issue,” he said.
The union government’s dashboard for the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) reveals that Uttar Pradesh has 3,28,580 tested sources of water. Of these, over 30,000 have some kind of contamination.
More worrying is the number of water sources that have chemical and bacteriological contamination.
Of the tested sources, 3,188 have iron, 794 have fluoride, 1,689 have nitrate and 482 have arsenic contamination. As many as 1,257 water sources have bacteriological contamination, with faecal coliform (bacteria) being found during testing.
Overall, the state has 25.88 lakh drinking water sources.
“If we go by what we see on social media, patriotism, jingoism, personal attacks and allegations are what poll campaigning is all about. Parties have promised people basic amenities, but it is nothing more than cut-copy-paste from their previous manifestos,” said Tripathi.
‘Discuss real issues’
“Wo kehte hain election ke baad sab theek ho jayega (they assure us that everything will be fine after election),” said Puran Singh, a resident of Sindhuria village of Unnao district, where a hand pump catering to more than 500 people was declared unsafe after fluoride contamination was found.
Badri Prasad, another resident of the same village, said, “It is high time that political parties talked about real issues like safe water, heath services and education instead of symbolic issues.”
“Why isn’t lack of safe drinking water a poll issue?” asked Bansi Lal, a resident of Saraiya village of Unnao district. “When we choose our representatives on issues other than development, these things are bound to happen. Politicians know the real issues will never influence their vote bank,” he said.
Ram Varan, president, Bharat Kisan Union, Purva unit, said, “The population of Akohari panchayat is around 15,000 and people are drinking fluoride contaminated water. But no politician is bothered about that.” Data from the NRDWP digital dashboard supported his claim of contaminated water sources in the panchayat.