Karnataka readies Rs 40k cr potable water supply plan

Karnataka government readies Rs 40,000 crore potable water supply plan

According to the authorities, it is a daunting task with the Centre breathing down the state’s neck

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

Authorities have prepared a Rs 40,000-crore plan to provide functional tap water connections to over 63 lakh households by 2023.

According to the authorities, it is a daunting task with the Centre breathing down the state’s neck. 

The Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Department has sent this plan to the Finance Department for approval under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), which has been branded here as the Mane Manege Gange. The plan was presented to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa earlier this week. 

Under JJM, Karnataka is doubling its effort to provide functional household tap connections (FHTC) to all rural households. Of the 91.19 lakh rural households, 28.15 lakh have been covered and the authorities hope to cover the remaining 63 lakh in the coming years.

Read more: 25 lakh rural households to get tap water this year in Karnataka

According to sources, the Centre recently pulled up Karnataka for slow progress under the scheme. The officials admit the slow progress, which is mainly because there simply aren’t sufficient sustainable water sources. 

Karnataka, an arid state, largely depends on borewells for drinking water. “A functional tap connection, according to the Centre, should deliver 55 litres per capita per day (LPCD) to every household. Borewells in most parts of the state cannot sustainably provide that service level,” an official explained. 

To get around this, the government is focussing on a bulk water supply scheme to provide tap connections. “Bulk water supply projects need time to prepare, approve, tender and execute,” the official said. 

By 2023, the government has planned 6,760 single or multi-village schemes to cover 63.03 lakh households with a functional tap water connection. In the current financial year, the government is planning 161 multi-village water supply schemes. These schemes rely on water sources that are local (tubewells) and remote (canals or rivers).

“Even for single-village schemes, since a large number of tenders have been called, we are not finding enough eligible contractors,” the official said, adding that the prices of pipes, cement and steel had substantially increased. 

Another reason causing the delay, apart from the obvious Covid-19 pandemic, is the “severe capacity constraints” as many engineering posts in the RDPR department are vacant. 

Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Tumakuru, Chikkaballapur and Kolar districts are marked as ‘red’ due to the unavailability of sustainable drinking water sources. “Of the Rs 40,000 crore, we have kept Rs 8,000 crore for projects in the red districts when they get water,” RDPR principal secretary LK Atheeq said. 

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