Bengal urges Centre to provide Rs 20,000 cr to treat arsenic, fluoride
Kolkata: The state government has urged the Centre to provide Rs 20,000 crore to control arsenic and fluoride in as many as 13 districts.
The Union minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Nagendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday inaugurated the national submission on water quality in Delhi as part of World Water Day celebrations.
Senior officials of the state Public Health Engineering (PHE) department attended the function. The mission deals with arsenic and fluoride contamination.
The PHE department has already submitted six detailed project reports for the projects at an estimated cost worth Rs 3,027 crore. The Centre is studying the DPR and is likely to give a clearance soon. However, it is no longer interested in sharing the cost of the projects on 50/50 ratio basis and in such a case, if it reduces its share, the state government might approach funding agencies including the Asian Development Bank for the money.
It may be recalled that in case of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna to construct rural roads, the Centre is no longer providing the entire money.
Now, the Centre shares the cost on the basis of 60:40 ratio with the state government and it is the latter's responsibility to maintain the rural roads. The districts that are affected by fluoride include Bankura, Purulia, Birbhum, Malda, Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur while arsenic hit districts are Murshidabad, Malda, Nadia, North and South 24 Parganas, Burdwan and Hooghly.
The proposal is to set up stations to lift water from rivers and purify them and then the filtered water will be sent to the households with the help of pipelines.
The PHE has already taken up several steps to supply filtered water in the arsenic-hit areas. In North 24 Parganas, the PHE department has installed several water ATMs where arsenic-free water is supplied. Most of these ATMs have been installed near schools.
Senior PHE officials said the schemes had been taken in such a way that it would cover the areas where drinking water had been contaminated with arsenic and fluoride.
It may be mentioned that arsenic contamination was found in some areas in the city and the road side tubewells where the contamination was found were sealed.
A few NGOs, in collaboration with the Civil Engineering department of IIEST, have set up arsenic-free tubewells in North 24 Parganas.