An incomplete boundary wall at the water treatment plant site in Bagbera. Picture by Bhola Prasad
The Rs 237-crore Chota Govindpur-Bagbera drinking water project, funded by World Bank, is all set to miss its May 2018 deadline, which was set by none other than the chief minister at a review meeting with the drinking water and sanitation department in Ranchi earlier this month.
This, practically, means that over 4 lakh residents in parched pockets will find no relief from drinking water crisis even in the summer of 2018.
"We do not know what to do? The drinking water and sanitation department says the project is being delayed in the absence of an NOC from Tatanagar authorities for laying pipeline and installing water towers on railway land. But, railway bosses claim they are yet to get any detailed proposal from the department," said Subodh Jha, convener of Bagbera Mahanagar Vikas Samiti, a citizens' outfit campaigning against water woes.
"Work is going on at snail's pace and it will take more than two years for the project to see the light of day. And here, most wells have gone dry while tube wells are lying defunct at many places," he added.
On April 18, 2015, chief minister Raghubar Das had laid the foundation stone for the water project and announced completion by 2017-end. The recent review meeting stretched the deadline to May 2018.
While the World Bank is providing 50 per cent of the project cost, the Union government will give 33 per cent and the state 16 per cent. Local residents will take care of the remaining one per cent.
Two water treatment plants - one of 46 million litre daily capacity at Ghaghidih (for Bagbera) and the other of 37 million litre daily capacity near Telco (for Chota Govindpur) - are proposed. These apart, 10 water towers (five each in Bagbera and Chota Govindpur) are part of the project, which will also see two intake wells on Subernarekha river, one at Domuhani (for Bagbera) and another at Luabasa (for Chota Govindpur).
Superintendent engineer of drinking water and sanitation (Jamshedpur) Rajendra Prasad conceded the delay.
"We are aware of the CM's new deadline, which could have been adhered to if the situation was ideal. There was stiff opposition from tribal groups for construction of the treatment plant at Ghaghidih, and it was handed over to us only in late 2016. There is also the issue of illegal settlement on railway land. Nearly 23km of pipeline, out of a total 100km in Bagbera, will cross railway land. We are trying to resolve the issues with the railway authorities," he said.
The engineer, however, exuded confidence over completing the Chota Govindpur phase by 2018.
Senior divisional commercial manager of Chakradharpur railway division of South Eastern Railway Satyam Prakash ruled out their role in the delay.
"We have received a letter from the drinking water and sanitation department, informing us about the project. In reply, we have asked it to submit a detailed sketch and proposal of the water project before handing over clearances. So far, it has not submitted the said proposal. We will issue clearances at the earliest, but under specified norms," Prakash said.