Rs 276 crore to mitigate drinking water shortage

Rs 276 crore to mitigate drinking water shortage

The State government has released Rs 276 crore to mitigate drinking water shortage during summer and will hold officials of zilla panchayats and rural development and panchayat raj department in charge of drinking water supply responsible if complaints from public are not attended to properly.

Addressing a press conference in Bangalore on Monday, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H K Patil said control rooms have been set up in all taluks in the State to attend to drinking water-related problems. The public can contact the toll free number 1800-425-8666 with regard to any complaints regarding drinking water supply / shortage in rural areas, he said.

Operators receive calls from 9 am to 6 pm, according to the recorded message. When this paper did a reality check, even before 6 pm, there was none to receive the calls. The phone offers details on MGNREGS as well as drinking water availability, it says. And, it kept saying in English,  “... all our operators are busy. Call later...”. A recorded Kannada song on the Sakaala scheme too was played. 

Executive officer of zilla panchayats and assistant executive engineers, executive engineers of RDPR department will have to attend to the complaints. Action will be initiated against the officials if they fail to respond properly, the minister said.

Besides, the officials have been directed not to go on leave till June 15. Department heads have also been directed that leave should be sanctioned sparingly. Panchayat ombudsmen have been asked to keep a track of the complaints and the response and submit a report to the government every ten days.

At present, water being supplied through tankers in 702 villages in the districts of Bangalore (Urban), Chikkaballapur, Mandya, Ramanagar, Tumkur, Ramanagara, Udupi, Belgaum among others, the minister said.

The Rs 276 crore grants would be utilised for supply of water through tankers, maintaining existing borewells, drilling new borewells, hydrofracturing, increasing the depth of borewells among others. Besides these grants a balance of Rs 240 crore is available with various zilla panchayats provided under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme, he said. 

The department will also take steps to energise 3,487 borewells within the next one year, he added.