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Campaign to highlight water pipelines are free

The decision was taken after the department received complaints that some ground-level workers sought money before putting pipelines at homes
Representational image.
Representational image.
File photo

Pranesh Sarkar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 21.03.22, 02:18 AM

The state public health engineering department (PHE) has decided to launch an awareness campaign across Bengal to make people aware that they won’t have to pay any money for the water pipeline connection under the Jal Swapna scheme.

The decision, a source in Nabanna said, was taken after the department received complaints that some ground-level workers sought money before putting pipelines at homes.

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“We will soon launch an awareness drive through rural bodies so that people know they need not pay any money to get water connection. We have received complaints that some workers of  agencies hired to give household water connections are demanding money for it,” said a senior PHE official.

Sources in the state secretariat said that the need for this awareness campaign was felt as the Bengal government is keen on pitching the scheme of free water pipeline connection as a success story before the 2023 panchayat polls and the Lok Sabha polls of 2024.

“The ruling establishment (Trinamul) faced the wrath of people in 2019 Lok Sabha polls as there were complaints that beneficiaries had to pay cut money to local leaders for dwelling units under housing schemes like Banglar Bari. The top brass of the government does not want a repeat of it,” said a bureaucrat.

Bengal’s Jal Swapna scheme is a modified version of the Centre's Jal Jeevan Mission in which the Centre bears 50 per cent of the cost, the state ]40 per cent and the beneficiaries 10 per cent.

In Bengal, the 10 per cent meant to be paid by beneficiaries — around Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 — is also borne by the state government as a part of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s plan to offer drinking water free of cost to people.

So far, the state has given pipeline connections to nearly 36 lakh rural households. The plan is to cover the entire state adding another 1.55 crore households before 2024. “The target is stiff, but the scheme gained momentum this year. Between April last year and February this year, we gave 20.97 lakh connections, the highest number in the country. If we maintain the momentum, we can achieve the target,” said a senior bureaucrat.



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