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Water project wakes up to HC fiat

Dilly, dally, jumpstart. Jharkhand High Court’s most recent prod in June 2011 should see the much-delayed Mango drinking water project worth Rs 64.15 crore take off in January 2013.

The high court, which has been hearing a PIL since August 2012 on the delayed Mango project filed by Jamshedpur-based NGO Bhagwan Birsa Sewa Sansthan, had asked the state drinking water and sanitation department (DW&SD) to file a compliance report by January 2013.

East Singhbhum deputy development commissioner Dadan Choubey called a meeting on Tuesday evening and asked Jamshedpur NH division executive engineer Amar Nath Thakur to evict encroachers along the NH-33 to pave way for laying of pipelines.

Principal secretary of drinking water and sanitation department Sudhir Prasad said they were taking the high court directive seriously and had instructed their district counterparts to ensure that the project kicks off in January 2013.

The Mango project — aiming to supply 48 million litres per day — started in 2005 as a public-private partnership between state drinking water and sanitation department and Tata Steel subsidiary Jusco. At present, against a demand for over six million litres of water a day, three lakh Mango residents receive less than a third, that is, less than two million litres.

Several hiccups delayed the project. Initial land acquisition problems over, lack of timely funds meant that Jusco, in charge of constructing five water towers, an intake well reservoir and a modern treatment plant on Subernarekha banks, went slow. In the last lap, 168km of pipelines have to be laid by Jusco, but encroachers on the earmarked areas — 25 per cent of the work is on NH-33 land swamped by illegal settlers — have to be removed. Pipelines will intersect the highway at four points.

Executive engineer of Jamshedpur NH division Amar Nath Thakur said they had identified 124 encroachers and served them notices to vacate on their own by September 8 or face demolition.

“We have identified encroachers on over 1km stretch between Pardih and Dimna on both sides of the NH-33 and served them notices. Most have agreed to leave by September 8. We will start a demolition drive from September 9 and will charge its cost to the intruders,” said the executive engineer.

Executive engineer of the DW&SD (Adityapur division) Bipin Bihari Singh said water towers and intake well reservoir were almost ready and the treatment plant is likely to be completed by this month.

“We hope Jusco starts pipeline laying work once encroachers are removed this month itself. It would take five months at the most to lay pipelines. We hope to meet the high court deadline,” said Singh.