Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, May 31:
The Odisha government, which failed to deliver on its promises to provide 24-hour drinking water supply to Scheduled Tribe (ST) households even after one year of implementation of the scheme, has now mooted an ambitious new scheme called the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Program’ (ARWSP) to supply water to all the villages in the state.
While the government is planning to complete the project work by March 2015, it has set a target of covering 90% villages by 2021-22 to meet the goal fixed by the Union Ministry for supply of drinking water under the National Rural Drinking Water Supply Program (NRDWP) guidelines.
According to the Rural Development department sources, around Rs 14,000 crore is required to complete the project.
“While the annual requirement for the project is around Rs 1,750 crore, only Rs 400 crore is available under the Central scheme. This means there would be a huge shortfall of around Rs 1,350 crore per year. However, in order to overcome the shortfall, necessary budgetary allocation will be made from the state funds and the state government will press for more central assistance for the project in the coming years,” said a source in the Rural Development department.
The government has also decided to provide water to 1000 remote villages spread across 12 Non Integrated Action Plan (IAP) Districts with solar power based dual pumps.
As per the scheme, water will be lifted to an overhead tank from the bore-well by using solar power. The scheme has already been implemented in 18 IAP districts of the state. Official sources said 3400 villages in 18 IAP districts have already been covered.
However, the state government’s failure to fulfil its earlier promise to provide water to all the ST households had led many to doubt whether it can really achieve its new goal.
The state Government had announced in April last year that 1560 piped water supply projects will be executed in tribal villages under the Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood Programme (OTELP) over a period of three years.
However, the project got delayed due to shortage of manpower, excessive workload and huge unutilised funds lying with OTELP. Now, the SC/ST Development Department has requested the Rural Development Department to execute the projects with the help of their own agencies.