Bagbera residents take part in a padyatra at Bistupur on Thursday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Tired of waiting for piped drinking water supply to their homes, residents of Bagbera on Thursday embarked on a padyatra to Ranchi to force the government into executing a long pending water project.
The Rs 132 crore Bagbera rural drinking water project sanctioned by the drinking water and sanitation department is yet to see the light of day despite being on paper since 2006. Five detailed project reports have been prepared, but there is nothing concrete to show for it on the ground.
The project, once ready, will benefit over 3 lakh people living in 113 villages of 21 panchayats comprising Bagbera, Harharguttu, Ghaghidih, Kitadih and Parsudih. It envisages construction of a water treatment plant near Ghaghidih central jail and three water tanks.
The padyatra has been organised jointly by Bagbera Mahanagar Vikash Samity (BMVS) and Sampurna Ghaghidh Vikash Samity (SGVS). The rally started around noon from Harharguttu Kali Mandir, around 10km from Jamshedpur, before wending through Bistupur to reach the district collectorate. The residents submitted a memorandum to East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Himani Pande, before heading for NH-33.
Carrying banners and placards, the padyatra started with 100 residents, and hundreds more were expected to join in as it made its way to Ranchi.
The protesters will cover 140km on foot, before gheraoing the state Assembly on September 4, demanding immediate execution of the drinking water project.
Speaking to The Telegraph, BMVS convener Subodh Jha said residents of the area had been suffering from diarrhoea and other water borne diseases after drinking water from tubewells in the absence of piped drinking water.
“Water scarcity is a problem during summer and monsoon. While in summer, the groundwater level falls to such an extent that the tube-wells run dry, during the rains, muddy water gushes out of the tube-wells. People are forced to consume that water and fall ill as a result,” added Jha.
He added that the residents had no other option but to embark on the padyatra to embarrass the government into keeping its word.
Executive engineer of drinking water and sanitation department (Jamshedpur division) Raghunandan Sharma said pre feasibility report (PFR) of the project had been submitted to the central design office in Ranchi on Monday.
“The PFR has been prepared by New Delhi-based Ramkey Enviro Limited. After sanction of PFR, there would be a process of global tender followed by construction of infrastructure and laying of pipelines. It would take at least a year for execution,” he added.