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Rs 1,200-cr scheme to provide drinking water to villages

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, Nov. 23

IN order to ensure that all the villages in the country have access to clean drinking water, the Rural Development Ministry has announced the Swajaldhara Scheme, at an investment of Rs 1,200 crore.

Addressing a press conference here on Friday, the Rural Development Minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, said that this scheme is an extension of the Ministry's sector reform programme being executed in 67 districts.

He said that like the sector reform programme, the Swajaldhara Scheme would also adopt the community participation approach, by which 10 per cent of the total cost of the project has to be raised by the village panchayats or the local beneficiaries, while the Centre will fund 90 per cent of the project.

He said that the funds would be given directly to the panchayats or the beneficiaries. However, the State Government will appoint a committee, which would monitor proper utilisation of funds.

The Centre and States are presently sharing the cost of the various drinking water projects on a 50:50 basis. "The State Governments, through this scheme, will be relieved of all kinds of financial burdens. However, the State Governments have to play a role to create an awareness among the panchayats and the beneficiaries and prepare them to share the burden," remarked Mr Kumar.

He also mentioned that the panchayats have to play a role in both implementation as well as the maintenance of the project.

The Government is also planning to give a one-time maintenance grant to the panchayats within six months of the beginning of the project, depending on their performance. "This will be like an incentive to mobilise greater community participation," said Mr Kumar.

The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, would formally inaugurate the scheme on December 25, he said.

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