The state Public Health Engineering department (PHE) has submitted a plan worth Rs 20,000 crore to the Centre to provide piped water in areas affected by arsenic.
The arsenic hit districts are Murshidabad, North and South 24 Parganas, Hooghly and Burdwan. Of this amount, the state government will give Rs 10,000 crore. Talks are on with the Centre which is providing funds to provide drinking water in arsenic and fluoride-hit districts in the country.
Several districts in Bengal are affected with arsenic and fluoride. Senior officials of PHE said that the Centre is likely to give the amount in 4 years. Meanwhile, it will provide Rs 170 crore for the ongoing projects to combat arsenic. Once the project is completed, the state will be able to shake off the arsenic menace. Water will be lifted from the river, then purified and supplied to the households with the help of underground pipes.
It may be mentioned that after coming to power in 2011, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held meetings with senior engineers of PHE and urged them to make plans to lift water from river and supply the purified water with the help of pipes. This was for the first time when such a venture was taken. Earlier, the practice was to lift groundwater and supply it to households. This affected the ground water level in many areas including Kolkata very badly. Following her instructions PHE engineers did a commendable job by lifting water from river Hooghly in Debendrabala ghat in north Kolkata and take that water to filtration station at New Town covering a distance of more than 20 km.
Subrata Mukherjee, state PHE minister said the state government’s main thrust is the supply of filtered water in the rural areas and comprehensive plans have been chalked out worth Rs 8,000 crore. He expects that by 2020, every rural household will get piped water.
The Asian Development Bank has given a loan worth Rs 2,230 crore to provide drinking water in four blocks in East Midnapore, eight blocks in Bankura and three blocks in North 24 Parganas. These blocks are Nandigram I and II, Nandakumar and Chandipur in East Midnapore. Eight blocks in Bankura and three blocks in Habra, Rajarhat and Bhangar (II) in North 24 Parganas. This amount is in addition to the ongoing projects worth Rs 8,000 crore.
Under the ongoing project, a water supply project worth Rs 1,300 crore is coming up at Kulpi in South 24 Parganas. A water supply scheme worth Rs 550 crore is coming up at Habra- Gaighata in North 24 Parganas. Another water supply scheme worth Rs 300 crore is coming up at Tapan- Gangarampur in South Dinajpur. Two water supply schemes are coming up at Panskura worth Rs 150 crore and Purulia worth Rs 1,100 crore. A scheme has already been prepared to lift water from river Torsha which will be purified and supplied to the people of Joygaon in Alipurduar.