The water treatment plant that is part of the Mango project. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Trust the administration to falter on its promise of drinking water for a drip-fed Mango even as the prospect of another scorching summer looms.
The Rs 64.18-crore Mango drinking water project, which has dragged on for more than seven years with a promise to end the woes of over 3 lakh residents of the burgeoning area, was slated to begin supply from March 31.
This was what the East Singhbhum district administration stated in an affidavit before Jharkhand High Court in December last year.
But a reality check that reflected the tardy pace of work by Jusco, a wholly owned subsidiary of executing agency Tata Steel, has signalled that the project is likely to miss yet another deadline.
District additional deputy commissioner Ganesh Kumar, who was compelled to write to Jusco managing director Ashish Mathur on March 2, said the Mango water project was reviewed during a meeting on February 28 when doubts were expressed about is timely completion.
“Executive in-charge of drinking water and sanitation department (Adityapur circle) Pradeep Kumar Choudhary said it would not be possible to supply water from March 31, as several works are yet to be completed. We went to the spot on March 1 and found that the pace of work carried out by Jusco had slowed down,” he told The Telegraph.
Kumar wrote a letter to Jusco on March 2 to expedite work so that they were able to meet the March 31 deadline and escape the high court’s ire.
Jeson Horo, a senior official of the drinking water and sanitation department who is looking after the Mango area, said laying of pipes in a roughly 500-metre area in Daiguttu and a few other localities was yet to be completed by Jusco.
Pipes to water towers are also yet to be installed.
“It is not possible to complete the work by March. After laying pipes and connecting others to water towers, it will take a few days to run trials in various pockets before the water project commences. We can at best start supplying water by April,” said Horo.
The project envisages construction of five water towers in addition to an existing structure, a modernised water treatment plant and an intake reservoir on the banks of the Subernarekha with a capacity to supply 48 million litres per day for the next 24 years.
At present, against a demand for 6 million litres per day, residents of Mango get less than 2 million litres from the existing water tower.
The project was mentioned in the 2005-06 budget with an estimated cost of Rs 25 crore. The foundation stone was laid by then governor K. Sankaranarayan in 2009.
Its earlier deadline was August 2011. Since then, the project has failed to meet deadlines on four more occasions —December 2011, September 2012, December 2012 and January 2013.
Jharkhand High Court, which has since August 2012 been hearing a PIL filed by Jamshedpur-based NGO Bhagwan Birsa Sewa Sansthan on the project, had asked the state drinking water and sanitation department to file a compliance report by January 2013.
Jusco spokesperson Rajesh Rajan said that they were not solely responsible for the delay.
“We did not get the front (sites where pipes were to be laid) cleared at certain pockets which hampered pipe-laying work. On some occasions, we failed to receive electricity supply to charge the equipment for laying pipes. However, we are getting all state support and hope to complete the project in the next two months,” he said.