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‘We are forced to drink contaminated water’

The Hindu, 30 January, 2014


Jalahalli residents’ protest against officials enters third day


Residents of Jalahalli village, Deodurg taluk, staging an indefinite strike outside the gram panchayat office in Raichur on Wednesday.— PHOTO: SANTOSH SAGAR

RAICHUR: The indefinite protest by the residents of Jalahalli, a village in Deodurg taluk, outside the office of the Jalahalli Gram Panchayat, entered the third day on Wednesday.

Under the banner of the Forum of Progressive Organisations, the residents have been demanding action against officials and elected representatives who were allegedly involved in misappropriation of funds.


“In order to address the drinking water problems at Jalahalli and Lingadahalli villages in Deodurg taluk, a drinking water project was taken up by the Raichur Zilla Panchayat in 2007–08, under the Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission at Rs. 3.56 crore. The project was supposed to be commissioned in 2011. However, it hasn’t started yet,” said Giriyappa Pujari, who has been in the forefront of the protest.


According to him, the residents were forced to drink contaminated water. “Various reports had said that the groundwater had high fluoride content. Even doctors have warned us against drinking this water. Since there is no alternative, we are forced to drink the water being supplied by the gram panchayat,” he said. Bheemanna Gumedar, another leader from the village, alleged that the gram panchayat officials had misappropriated funds meant for the development of the village. “Under the 13th Finance Commission, Rs. 36 lakh was released for the development of the village. Massive irregularities, violation of guidelines and misappropriations have been found in the utilisation of funds. We want an inquiry into the issue,” he demanded.


Some protesters alleged that the gram panchayat had not collected rent from traders who occupied the gram panchayat commercial complex for the last seven years.


Their other demands included providing toilets in all households, replacing old electric poles with new ones, installing more transformers, clearing bills of beneficiaries who got their houses constructed under government schemes and paying wages to those who have worked under the MNREGA, among others.