The Telegraph
Saturday , August 23 , 2014
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New water guardian alarm in capital
- State to relinquish supply job next month-end, RMC initiates lazy take-over steps

It’s official. Come October, the Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) will have to supply drinking water across the capital, a job hitherto done by the state administration on its behalf.

The drinking water and sanitation department on Friday formally notified September 30 as the date for change of guard in adherence to provisions of the 2014-15 budget, raising the spectre of a crisis because the RMC is notorious for doing precious little as far as providing civic amenities are concerned.

According to the Jharkhand Municipal Act 2011, civic mandarins are required to manage city water affairs. However, most urban local bodies in the state dodge this responsibility. If an official of the drinking water and sanitation department is to be believed, only civic authorities in Giridih discharge their duty.

Strange as it may sound, the urban development department doesn’t have any information in this regard.

“I guess, some municipal bodies have already taken charge of water supply in their respective areas, but we don’t have exact details,” said Manjulata Kanth, deputy secretary (urban development) who looks after water works.

She, however, conceded that the Jharkhand Municipal Act required all civic bodies to manage urban water supply.

According to Arun Kumar Singh, executive engineer of Swarnarekha head works division under the drinking water and sanitation department, the government had in March issued the duty transfer letter.

“Ideally, the change of guard should have happened in April, but the RMC cited many a problem. Under the 2014-15 budget, we have been given funds for water supply only till September 30. So, the RMC has to take responsibility from October 1. The government has already sanctioned funds to the urban development department in this regard,” Singh said, but added that he didn’t have details of budgetary allocations handy to share.

But, is the RMC equipped to manage the task? “It is their problem,” Singh said curtly.

Engineer-in-chief, drinking water and sanitation department, Deendayal Sharma maintained that sooner or later the RMC had to assume charge. “Till now, we were just doing the job on its behalf,” he said.

Crying manpower and resource crunch, the RMC cuts a sorry figure whenever it comes to tackling day-to-day civic mess or undertaking state and central schemes. For instance, it has long been running away from owning the city bus service.

Now, with a little over a month left, it also hasn’t begun preparations for the water supply transfer, apparently in an attempt to shrug this responsibility further.

“Water supply will be a huge liability for us given the problems that we are facing. Still, we have asked our water board to prepare a blueprint on the number of people required, infrastructure needed etc. for this work. Let’s see how it can be done,” RMC’s public relations officer Naresh Sinha sounded dubious.

Considering the civic body’s time-tested efficiency, Ranchi may well brace for drinking water woes during the festive season.

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