The central government will launch six pilot projects for clean drinking water supply in villages under ‘Swajal Project; one each in Uttarakhand, UP, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The project will involve locals in civil work and maintenance of the system.
Piloted as a “by the people, for the people, of the people” project, the drinking water and sanitation ministry will pay 90% of the cost and the panchayat concerned will bear the remaining 10%. It will be extended to all 115 backward districts identified by Niti Aayog. The first two pilots will start in Uttarakhand (this month) and in Rajasthan next month.
Though this seems like a replica of the ‘Swajaldhara’ scheme launched by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, this time there are some improvements. “Local residents will pay a certain water charge for maintenance of the system. At least one village will be brought under the scheme in all 115 identified districts,” a source said. Minister Uma Bharati, who has conceptualised the scheme, will launch the first pilot in Uttarkashi next week.
The second district will be Karauli in Rajasthan. Officials said 90% share of central government will be paid to the panchayat on the day work starts. “They will procure and lay the system. There will be no contracting since the focus is to give complete ownership to people and panchayats,” an official said.
The project will also seek to improve ground water level by rainwater harvesting and other water recharging initiatives.