New Delhi, Jan. 5: A longstanding dream of several parched Jharkhand villages is set to become a reality soon with the cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) approving a rural water supply and sanitation scheme for four low-income states.
As many as six districts of the tribal heartland will benefit from the Rs 6,000-crore World Bank-assisted project, which will also cover selected places in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Assam.
The CCEA nod, which came on January 2, means that now the respective state governments will have to bear a part of the cost.
Several pilot projects such as 24/7 water supply provision in select areas and new technologies like use of solar energy will be pursued under the scheme envisioned under the 12th five-year plan, which is expected to improve access and usage of piped drinking water supplied to individual homes.
The aim is to provide a focused thrust on states that have less than 10 per cent piped water coverage. Most of the targeted districts are grappling with high content of arsenic, fluoride and iron in water and lack of sanitation facilities like bathrooms and lavatories.
“In Jharkhand, the scheme will be extended to East Singhbhum, Dumka, Garhwa, Palamau, Saraikela-Kharsawan and Khunti, catering to around 12 lakh people. In Bihar, it will benefit an estimated population of 24 lakh spread across gram panchayats in Patna, Begusarai, Munger, Muzzafarpur, West Champaran, Nalanda, Nawada, Saran, Purnia and Banka,” said a senior official in the Union ministry of rural development.
Women and children would benefit significantly as they currently shoulder the burden of getting the families’ daily water quota. Households availing of the water scheme will have to pay a one-time fee of Rs 450 (general) and Rs 225 (SC/ST) and a regular user fee, which has not been fixed yet.
“Focus will be on monitoring and surveillance of drinking water quality. A monitoring and evaluation system has been proposed under the project. Grievances will be addressed at the gram panchayat, district and state levels. Social audits will be also conducted,” the official added.
The other objective is to improve sanitation conditions in the targeted districts by adopting the convergence approach under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan and the rural drinking water programme. “The project areas will be saturated in terms of access to water supply, household and institutional toilets and solid and liquid waste management,” the official said.Intensive information, education and communication and behavioural change communication programmes will be also carried out as part of the initiative.
Also, the scheme will support the provision of household connections, meters for bulk water supply and promotion of household meters wherever appropriate.