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World Bank funds for 6
- Rs 900cr initiative on water to cover 567 panchayats

Ranchi, June 6: Patrayur, a small Munda community-dominated village in Khunti district, today marked the beginning of a World Bank-sponsored rural water supply and sanitation project in Jharkhand and three other low-income states of the country.

Jharkhand drinking water and sanitation minister Jai Prakash Bhai Patel inaugurated the project that aims to improve the condition of 14 lakh villagers living in six districts — Dumka, East Singhbhum, Seraikela-Kharsawan, Khunti, Palamau and Garhwa.

“Its success, however, depends mostly on active participation of local panchayat representatives,” the minister said after launching the project online from a Ranchi hotel.

According to 2011 census, only 3.7 per cent people of Jharkhand have access to piped water supply and 7.6 per cent people have toilets at their homes, the minister pointed out, explaining the reasons behind launching the project.

In January, World Bank (WB) approved credit of $500 million (around Rs 3,000 crore) to improve piped water supply and sanitation services through a decentralised delivery system in Jharkhand Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Assam in the first phase.

Four more states — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bengal and Odisha — will be taken up in the next phase. “This is the first scheme under this initiative in eastern India,” said state development commissioner Sudhir Prasad.

He added that Rs 900 crore would be spent in the state over six years. During the period, 751 such schemes will be taken up that will cover as many as 3,435 habitations under 567 gram panchayats of the six selected districts.

While half of Rs 900 crore will come from the World Bank, the Centre and will bear 29 per cent and 20 per cent of the cost, respectively.

“The community will have to bear the remaining one per cent cost of the project in its respective localities,” said special secretary (water and sanitation) Jabber Singh.

World Bank team leader Smita Sharma said the decentralised delivery system was the unique feature of the project that would help empower people. “Similar projects have been taken up elsewhere in the country earlier and it is expected that the best practices of other states, like Kerala and Maharashtra, will be applied here,” she added.

“We hope this water supply scheme will spare us the trouble of fetching water from distant places,” a villager said from Patrayur through tele-conferencing when the minister sought her reaction to the project.