PUNJAB: Punjab has been able to provide potable piped water supply connections to 26.44 lakh rural households (76.13%) at their doorstep under its ‘Har Ghar Pani, Har Ghar Safai’ mission. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown conditions, 8.31 lakh rural households were covered in the last fiscal (2020-21).
Under this mission, which was launched by Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on February 1, the government is committed to achieving the goal of 100% potable piped water supply in all rural households by March next year. Amarinder had also inaugurated a ‘Mega Surface Water Supply Scheme’ covering 85 villages in Moga district, 144 new water supply schemes for 172 villages, 121 arsenic and iron removal plants and dedicated all these facilities to the people as part of the government’s campaign to accomplish the goal of 100% potable piped water supply to rural households.
To achieve the objective of long-term sustainability, the state government is implementing large surface water supply schemes in 1,021 villages impacted by a higher concentration of arsenic and fluoride in Amritsar, Taran Taran, Gurdaspur, Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib. The work entails an expenditure of Rs 1,031 crore. These projects will benefit 15.26 lakh rural population.
The CM has declared safe drinking water as his government’s top priority. Since he took over in 2017, the government has spent Rs 1,642 crore on rural drinking water supply and sanitation services. A further allocation of Rs 2,148 crore has been made for various schemes in 2021-22. Explaining the mission, Jaspreet Kaur Talwar, Principal Secretary, Water Supply and Sanitation Department, says: “The state has already covered its 99.5% of rural habitation with piped water supply.
To cover the remaining people and improving the service delivery parameters in other habitations, various works are being executed in villages. The state government has made a paradigm shift in its policy for coverage of the quality-affected villages. All surface water projects are being executed with funding from the World Bank, Jal Jeevan Mission, NABARD and State Budget.’’
He said in rural sanitation sector, the state has already been declared Open Defecation Free in 2018 for rural areas under which an amount of Rs 863 crore has been utilized for construction of 5.75 lakh individual rural toilets. The state government has given Rs 15,000 each for construction of toilets as compared to Rs 12,000 in other parts of the country. The state government has ensured clean drinking water and toilets in all schools and anganwadis of the state, thus, maing Punjab the first state in the country to provide piped water supply to all its rural schools,’’ says Talwar.
Gurmel Singh of Daudhar village and Aman Maini of Lopon village both in Moga district say the groundwater in their areas had become poisonous due to the presence of high concentration of uranium. Contamination and scarcity of water had given rise to a variety of diseases. “This project will bring to end our drinking water-related problems.’’ Paramjit Kaur of Badhni Khurd village and Karamjit Kaur of Rania village of Moga said their houses now had an adequate water supply.
Canal-based supply: Meant for 85 villages affected by uranium contamination in Moga district.
Cost: Rs 218.56 crore
Purification work is on for providing ‘decentralised household water purifiers’ in 174 contamination-hit habitations. 304 community water purification plants will benefit 213 arsenic-hit habitations in the state
Testing labs: A hi-tech lab at Amritsar capable of testing heavy metals has been set up. Three more such labs at Moga, Sangrur and Hoshiarpur are in the pipeline with an investment of Rs 10 crore.