Once ‘city of ponds’, Dharbhanga now grappling with acute water shortage
With the temperature rising, an acute water shortage in Darbhanga has gripped rural and urban pockets. The state of things is likely to worsen over May and June.
The groundwater table has plummeted, and at several places in the district, residents have been using submersible pumps in search of water. A large number of hand pumps,or tube wells, have failed to draw up any water because of the severe depletion of the groundwater level. The government water supply — managed through the state public health engineering department (PHED) and the municipal corporation — is erratic and inadequate.
Taking up the challenge, Darbhanga district magistrate (DM) Thiyagrajan SM has undertaken a slew of initiatives to help people. A control room with a dedicated telephone number (06272-221218) has been set up at the Darbhanga municipal office to receive complaints regarding the repair of defunct and dried up hand pumps and supply maintenance in the affected localities with the help of water tankers. The DM has also directed PHED authorities to install 150 public standposts. A public standpost is a suitably supported water pipe, connected with a water distribution system and terminating in a tap or faucet, which is located at a public site, and from which water may be drawn for domestic and other uses.
Intensifying measures, the DM also held a meeting of all block development officers through video-conferencing on Thursday after the latter obtained suggestions from people’s representatives in their respective areas.
The district administration had opened a 16-hour (6am-10pm) control room to manage the crisis and 8-10 tankers would be kept ready at any given point of time to tide over the water crisis in 48 municipal wards, sources said.
The DM said that he had also directed PHED officials to immediately resolve the issue of leakage in newly laid pipelines connected to water towers installed under the urban water supply mission.
The administration of Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) has obtained approval from Rogi Kalyan Samiti to instal 10 submersible pumps in the face of the acute water crisis gripping the hospital campus. DMCH superintendent Dr Raj Ranjan Prasad said that initially a fund of Rs 5 lakh was sanctioned for seven submersible pumps in different wards. However, it was a herculean task to get the service providers, who were already preoccupied with a large number of orders.
According to activist and co-ordinator of Talab Bachao Abhiyan (TBA), Narayanjee Choudhary, Darbhanga town was once better known as ‘City of Ponds’ — there were 350 ponds in Darbhanga town till 1960 as per the district gazetteer, but the number went down to 250 by the early Nineties. “As of now, ponds are being destroyed, filled and encroached upon by vested interests in a well planned manner. The number of ponds had dwindled further,” said Choudhary.
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