Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder has directed the Water Supply and Sanitation Department today to ensure accomplishment of the government’s goal to make the state Open Defecation Free (ODF) by March 31, 2018. He has also ordered the department to take steps to ensure clean drinking water for all, besides 24x7 water supply in 100 more villages annually.With 13 districts having already achieved the goal, the government was on way to positively achieve the target of declaring Rural Punjab Open Defecation Free by 31st of March, 2018, Captain Amarinder said here while chairing a meeting to review the ongoing schemes and projects of Water Supply and Sanitation Department.The Chief Minister lauded the fact that Punjab had facilitated more than 85% of the total beneficiaries to opt for the Bath-cum-Toilet under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) scheme.Reviewing the progress of the Surface Water Supply Scheme, being undertaken at a cost of Rs. 232.11 Crores in 85 villages of Moga, the Chief Minister instructed the department to ensure that the project is completed within the stipulated time to ensure quality water supply to households.On being apprised about the problem of mixing of sewage water with drinking water, Captain Amarinder also ordered immediate upgradation of the system to ensure proper sewage and water supply to the residents of Mehraj in Bhatinda district. He directed the department to come up with a comprehensive plan for sustainable water supply mechanism in the area in particular, and the state in general.
Stressing the importance of providing clean potable water to all, Captain Amarinder also ordered 24X7 water supply to 100 villages annually, besides increasing the number of villages to be given minimum 10-hour water supply to 1000 by the end of this year. All water quality affected habitations should be ensured safe drinking water source, he added.In response to a suggestion made in the meeting, the Chief Minister also directed the department to explore ways to collaborate with the World Bank under the ambit of their various schemes to have a project evaluator to ensure total implementation of all shared projects.Underscoring the need to ascertain the real cause of contamination of ground drinking water, Chief Minister also asked the Chief Secretary to explore the possibility of undertaking a study by a reputed institute of the region so that long lasting measures could be employed to safeguard the health of rural masses. The high prevelance of Uranium, Fluoride, Arsenic and other chemicals in the ground water pose a major health hazard, which needs to be comprehensively addressed, Captain Amarinder added. He also ordered that revenue collection be made robust to ensure financial sustainability of all schemes.
Taking part in the deliberations, Rural Development Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa informed that online bill payment of water supply and sewerage bills of Mohali had been operationalised and would be launched on January 26. He informed the Chief Minister that the mobile application for the sane was in the process of being further upgraded and would include constituency-wise information of water supply schemes, water quality status, besides mechanism for online application for new water connections. He also intimated that all non-functional RO systems in the state would be made operational on priority. Out of total 2305 ROs installed across the state, 121 ROs needed urgent maintenance, he further added.Earlier, the meeting was informed that there were 906 canal water-piped water supply schemes and 7312 Tubewell-piped water supply schemes and the focus was to shift all habitations to the latter in the near future. During the March 2017 to January 2018 period, a total of 858 more villages have been ensured Dawn to Dusk water supply (10 hours of more), taking the number to 1851.Further, new water connections have been given to 2,42,517 rural households, taking the total to 18,79,896. It was also highlighted that out of 230 new schemes commissioned this year, 137 would be completed by December 2018.Prominent among others who attended the meeting were Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, Secretary Water Supply and Sanitation Jaspreet Talwar and Director Sanitation Mohammed Ishfaq.