Kolkata: From 2011, when Mamata Banerjee led the Trinamool Congress to power and formed the Government, water resources has been a major area of focus in Bengal.
The Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department Minister, Subrata Mukherjee, in his departmental budget for financial year (FY) 2018-19 has outlined a number of measures to achieve self-sufficiency in generation, storage and distribution of drinking water.
The Bengal Government has adopted a plan called Vision 2020, which envisages permanent drinking water security at the rate of 70 litres per capita per day (lpcd) in the rural areas of the state.
The Government has taken numerous measures to make drinking water available in every part of the State, and efforts are on towards achieving this. According to the vision document, to ensure drinking water security, emphasis has been laid on piped water supply schemes with the objective to completely shift from hand-pumped tube-wells to piped water from house to house, in a phased manner.
A comprehensive action plan has been prepared for implementation in a phased manner in the 43 fluoride-affected blocks in the seven districts of Birbhum, Bankura, Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur, Purulia, Malda and South 24 Parganas.
Piped water supply schemes, with the water being sourced from either sub-surface river water or fluoride-free ground water aquifer, in the above-mentioned areas have already been commissioned, and different technological options for fluoride treatment are also being explored.
It is pertinent to mention two mega projects in this case – named Tapan and Gangarampur, at a cost of Rs 165.50 crore and Rs 145.01 crore, respectively, in Dakshin Dinajpur have been taken up to cover a population of 2.51 lakh and 2.38 lakh, respectively.
The State Government has been able to provide drinking water to a rural population of 157.05 lakh, which amounts to 94.3 per cent of the population in arsenic-affected blocks. All the arsenic-affected villages shall be provided with water within March 2019.