Water pipelines that run haphazardly in Darjeeling. Picture by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, Feb. 21: The Centre has given its nod to a Rs 169.2-crore project to revamp the water distribution system in the Darjeeling municipality area and will give 80 per cent of the funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
The civic body mooted the overhaul of the water distribution system as the network had been laid in the 1930s and became haphazard over the years with the addition of new connections.
Moreover, both private and commercial buildings have no meters to measure the quantum of supply and there are complaints of disproportionate and discriminatory distribution of water during summer.
The municipality had signed a memorandum of agreement with the state government in the middle of last year to streamline the water supply network in the town.
Speaking over the phone from Calcutta, Amar Singh Rai, the chairman of the Darjeeling municipality, said: “Today, a meeting of the state level sanctioning committee of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission was held in Calcutta. A video-conference was also held with officials of the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns in New Delhi. The Centre has given the nod for the Rs 169.2 crore project for revamping the water distribution system.”
The urban infrastructure development scheme is a component of the JNNURM that was initiated by the Centre in 2005.
Rai said an MoU would be signed for the project in Calcutta on February 26. The agreement will be signed by Darjeeling municipality, State Urban Development Agency (SUDA), which is the nodal agency for the implementation of the JNNURM in Bengal, and the urban infrastructure development scheme.
“According to the agreement, the Centre will fund 80 per cent of the project, while the state government will chip in 15 per cent of the amount. The Darjeeling municipality will have to contribute five per cent of the total project cost. The civic body’s contribution comes to around Rs 8 crore and the state municipal affairs department has shown its willingness to provide a long-term loan to the municipality for this purpose,” said Rai.
The Union government’s share of the project expenditure has been pegged around Rs 136 crore.
The Centre gave the nod on the condition that the municipality would have to complete the project within 30 months.
“The SUDA is already working out a timeline for us. We have been asked to immediately float tenders for soil testing. This will be followed by floating tenders to set up 30 water tanks to cover the 32 municipality wards of Darjeeling,” said Rai.
The project report also entails the construction of 14 pumping stations and relaying of the entire water pipeline network in Darjeeling.
“Once the project is completed, water meters will be introduced for both commercial and domestic consumers” said Rai.
He has said as of now, almost 40 per cent of the water lines in the town are “illegal”.
“Once the system is overhauled, we are confident that there will be no illegal connections. A proper system will also ensure that water flows evenly to all consumers.”