India Signs Pact With ADB For Safe Drinking Water In Bengal

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New Delhi (IANS): India and Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday signed a $240 million loan agreement to provide safe drinking water to about 1.65 million people in three districts of West Bengal, an official statement said.

The project aims to provide safe and sustainable drinking water to people in Bankura, North 24 Parganas and Purba Medinipur affected by arsenic, fluoride and salinity.

“Heavy reliance on groundwater puts most of the rural population in West Bengal at risk from arsenic and fluoride contamination that can lead to health problems including cancer and bone diseases,” the Ministry of Finance said in the statement

“The project aims to mitigate these risks through provision of continuous potable water through metered connections to about 390,000 individual households in the three districts,” it said.

The West Bengal Drinking Water Sector Improvement Project is supported by a grant of $3 million from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction and a $2 million grant from ADB’s Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund.

The agreement was signed by Ministry of Finance Additional Secretary Sameer Kumar Khare for the Indian government and ADB’s India Resident Mission Country Director Kenichi Yokoyama for the multilateral lending agency.

Khare said the project will help mitigate the health risks from using groundwater with elevated levels of arsenic and fluoride.

Yokoyama said that besides reducing the burden of diseases from contaminated groundwater, it will promote higher service levels compared with rural schemes in India with individual household connections.

The Ministry said it will support the state in strengthening its smart water management system, improve flood-related early warning and response, and provide training on operation and maintenance as well as climate change and disaster resilience.

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