BHUBANESWAR: The government intends to spend more than Rs 2,000 crore to provide safe drinking water to people in the coming financial year if the budget allocation is anything to go by. However, providing potable water remains a challenge given the fact that more than 75% villages in the state don’t have access to piped water supply.
In his budget speech on Monday, finance minister Pradip Amat described adequate and safe drinking water supply to people as among the top priorities of the government and launched a new scheme BASUDHA (Buxi Jagabandhu Assured Water Supply to Habitations).
Under the scheme, Amat promised Rs 750 crore for villages and Rs 315 crore for towns.
For Berhampur city, where water scarcity is a recurring problem every summer, the budget promised a mega water supply project from Janivilli reservoir with an estimated cost of Rs 489 crore. Similarly, Amat allotted Rs 300 crore state share for the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) and Rs 250 crore for operation and maintenance of water supply systems.
Government sources said the BASUDHA scheme will focus on villages not covered under the NRDWP and small towns.
“It remains an ambitious task. Of the total 1.56 lakh villages in the state, 1.17 lakh don’t have piped water supply,” a written reply by rural development minister Badri Narayan Patra in the assembly on Tuesday said.
The minister said piped water projects for the uncovered villages will be undertaken in phases depending on government grants.
In 2016-17, the government has taken up work 690 such projects to cover 1,863 villages with central aid of Rs 91 crore under the NRDWP.
The bigger concern for government, however, is more than 1,800 villages where the ground water remains contaminated with fluoride (62 villages), iron (1625) or salinity (127).
The minister said the government has two-pronged strategy for these villages: Fluoride/iron removal plants and saline sealing is being done on tube wells and piped water supply of treated water is planned.
Work on a mega water supply scheme using Mahanadi water will start soon for drinking water supply to 262 villages under Badamba and Narasinghpur blocks of Cuttack district where ground water is contaminated, the minister said.