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Karnataka: Nod for 624 works under drinking water project

Our Bureau

Under the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission, three `pilot projects' are currently being implemented in Karnataka — in Dakshina Kannada, Bellary and Mysore districts. A sum of Rs 40 crore has been sanctioned to Dakshina Kannada for the purpose.

MANGALORE, Aug. 19

SIX hundred and twenty-four works under the Rajiv Gandhi drinking water project have been given `administrative clearance' by the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat.

Of these, groundwork has been completed in 158 areas. By mid-July the DK Zilla Panchayat had cleared 488 works under the project. Work in all the other areas is currently in progress, according to the Minister-in-charge of the district, Mr B. Ramanatha Rai.

The project is to cover 368 villages under 203 gram panchayats in the district. Village committees, a necessary requirement for the implementation of the project, have been constituted in 366 villages.

In 356 out of these village committees, a total amount of Rs. 1.92 crore has been collected as 10 per cent of the project cost, another mandatory requirement.

Also, the district committee has already released grants worth Rs. 4.60 crore to the village committees towards the implementation of the project. The remaining work is expected to be completed by this December.

Under the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission, three `pilot projects' are currently being implemented in Karnataka — in Dakshina Kannada, Bellary and Mysore districts. A sum of Rs 40 crore has been sanctioned to Dakshina Kannada for the purpose. The project, however, depends on the `ability and willingness' of the villagers to contribute towards the scheme since the World Bank seems to think that, in a country where an estimated 250 million do not have access to potable water, a `demand-based and participatory' approach to the problem of rural water supply should involve the `participation' of the `beneficiaries' who should be made to contribute 10 per cent of the cost of every project taken up, apart from taking responsibility for maintenance and repairs.

A few months ago, there was some uncertainty regarding the current progress of the scheme, especially since the Union Ministry of Rural Development had asked the Zilla Panchayat to expedite implementation and, apparently, contributions from the `beneficiaries' were not forthcoming and there was not much sign of `grassroots participation'. District authorities, however, continued to maintain that work was progressing on schedule and that the contributions had been collected and deposited as per the guidelines of the project.

Whatever the case may be, statistics available with the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat give an indication of the state of water supply schemes in the rural parts of the district. According to available statistics, only about 84 per cent of the existing water schemes were still functional when the last survey was conducted. Of the 345 `piped water supply schemes' 29 are defunct, of the 476 `mini-water supply schemes' 43 are defunct and of 5,385 pump borewells, 956 are non-functional -- which means that, on the whole 1,028 schemes out of a total of 6,206 are defunct.

As per estimates, 1,277 water supply schemes are needed `urgently' in the five taluks of the Dakshina Kannada district covering 371 villages and involving an expenditure of Rs 3,338.34 lakh. Apart from this, the Zilla Panchayat had also chalked out 47 schemes for drawing water from rivers at a cost of Rs 6,000 lakh, which was to have made water available to 143 villages.

Also, as per another survey conducted by the Zilla Panchayat, 408 schools in the district do not have access to drinking water.

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