Instead of going in for big water tanks, which take time to build and may not be cost effective, the government now plans to go in for smaller units in every municipal ward to realize its goal of providing clean tap water to all habitations by 2020.
Public health engineering department (PHED) minister Vinod Narayan Jha told HT that while the ongoing schemes and projects on the verge of completion would go on, new units would be set up ward wise without requiring the need for big water tanks.
“We are also examining the viability of old water towers. Those which cannot be restored will be razed. However, there are many which can be renovated for use and that will be done. The ward-wise plan is to add speed to work,” said Jha, adding, in the first phase areas affected by arsenic, fluoride and iron contamination would be taken up.
A few years ago, the Bihar government had planned multivillage water supply projects in 200 arsenic-affected villages in three districts – Buxar, Vaishali and Patna. This was done following findings of high levels of arsenic contamination in the groundwater of 15 Bihar districts on either side of the Ganga river, posing the threat of cancer.
But the desired progress could not be made.
Now, work has started anew in 1,000 fluoride affected wards. “In 126 such wards, tap water has reached, while in 650 others tenders have been floated. Work will start soon. We are confident of meeting the deadline. In the 961 arsenic affected wards, tenders have been floated for 590 in the first phase,” he added.
In Bihar, 4510 wards have been identified as fluoride affected, while 2038 are arsenic affected. “The centre has approved potable water schemes for 755 settlements and provided Rs 161.32-crore grant for it, while the state will provide the matching grant,” he added.
The government will send another proposal for 1366 fluoride and arsenic affected wards to the centre by September 30, 2017. “The first instalment of Rs 80.66 crore will be released in a few days. I have had talks with the union ministry in this regard. The centre is also sensitive to the cause of providing clean water, said Jha.
Jha said that in view of serious problem of iron contamination of underground water in nine districts – Kishanganj, Purnea, Araria, Katihar, Madhepura, Saharsa, Supaul, Khagaria and Begusarai, the government would water purification units in 20719 wards.
“Our focus is on ensuring that every household gets potable water through pipe. For rest of the usage, they can manage with existing sources. The government is also planning to set up 72 water testing laboratories, besides nine mobile labs for far flung areas.