PATNA: The public health and engineering department (PHED) has said all the 5,635 wards of the 896 panchayats, where drinking water has been found to be affected by arsenic or fluoride poisoning, will be freed from the contaminations by March 31 next year.
State PHED minister Vinod Narayan Jha said the department has initiated the process like preparation of detailed project reports, inviting tenders and selection of agencies to execute the schemes for the purpose. The process has been completed in most cases and the work orders are being issued to start the work.

He said the PHED has been asked to provide arsenic, fluoride and iron-free drinking water in these panchayats. The project is part of the government’s ‘Seven Resolves’ programme.

Although there are 20,737 wards of 1,513 panchayats in the districts of Purnia and Kosi divisions, where drinking water has iron content beyond the permissible limits, the scheme to provide iron-free water in these wards will be implemented in a phased manner and completed in the next three years, the minister said.

PHED secretary Vinay Kumar said the number of identified panchayat wards, where drinking water is affected by arsenic poisoning, is 2,556 spread over 315 panchayats. They are located in the districts which lie on both sides of the Ganga from Buxar in the west to Kahalgaon in the east, he said.

Kumar also said that the drinking water used in 3,079 wards of 581 panchayats is affected by fluoride toxicity. They are in the southern hilly terrain of the state starting from the Kaimur hills in old Shahabad district and extending to the hilly areas of Jamalpur and Kahalgaon in Bihar and Sahebganj in Jharkhand.

Referring to the features of the schemes designed to provide arsenic, fluoride and iron-free drinking water, Kumar said the capacity of the equipment being installed for the purpose is 30 years, and the executing agencies would be tasked with their maintenance for five years.

“A new policy is being formulated to ensure the maintenance of equipment beyond five years,” Kumar said, adding the cost of the scheme for every panchayat would be in the range of Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 2 crore.

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