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Bangalore, November 21, 2017:Siddapur taluk in the district of Uttara Kannada, is among the laggards in providing access to water, especially safe drinking water.

According to the Human Development Report of Uttara Kannada district, the government of India (Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation) has fixed a norm of 40 liters of water per capita per day (lpcd) as the minimum requirement of a person. The Government of Karnataka aims at providing water at 55 lpcd in rural areas from different water supply schemes. Around two-thirds of habitations in Uttara Kannada do not get drinking water as per the national norm of 40 lpcd. This percentage in Siddapur is as high as 90 per cent.

Only 27.44 per cent of the houses in the district are served by piped water supply.

Manjunath Naik, a daily wage labourer in Doddamane said, “We don’t have a piped water connection. We have to draw water from a well. Four to five families depend on a single well. The situation gets worse during the summer when the well dries up. Access to drinking water will be become easy if they give us a water connection. They’ve tried implementing this before but it has failed.”

Even though Gram Panchayats across the taluk have laid pipelines for drinking water, they are riddled with issues. The report says the real problem seems to be in the distribution pipes, which are broken at some points. Only if Gram Panchayats can repair and maintain the pipelines, the scheme can benefit the villagers.

“Around Rs. 10-15 lakhs were spent to put in pipes, pumps, etc. to provide piped drinking water to the people of Dodmane. It’s been two years and not one house has seen drinking water coming in,” said Dasa Naik, a shopkeeper from Hasinagudi. “They took Rs. 500 from us. You only see 20-30 per cent of the sanctioned money in terms of utilization. Shouldn’t at least 70-80 per cent of the sanctioned money be spent? The rest has gone into their pockets, it seems.”

Datt Naik, a shopkeeper in Doddamane, said, “This village has plenty of water. We have pipelines and also ‘jari neeravi’. But, the problem is, there’s no implementation due to poor administration. That’s why there’s no piped supply of water.”

Health risks due to lack of access to safe drinking water is also a major concern. A few parts of Siddapur taluk have fluoride content exceeding the safe limit of 1.5 mg and some parts in the taluk show higher concentration of nitrate in the groundwater, the report says.

According to the Human Development Report report, a vast majority of the households, in Karnataka (66 per cent) depend on tap water for drinking purposes and only 9 per cent depend on wells (covered and uncovered well). But, in Uttara Kannada, open well is the main source of drinking water. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), open wells are not a good source for drinking purposes because in the rainy season open wells are flooded with rain water and waste water. Siddapur taluk is the second highest in terms of the proportion of drinking water coming from uncovered wells.

If you take into account covered and uncovered sources, around 80.2 per cent of households have some form of access to drinking water in Uttara Kannada. But, open wells excluded, the share of households getting drinking water comes down to 32 per cent.

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