To ensure uninterrupted supply of potable water in the villages, the Punjab Cabinet led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday approved a one-time settlement (OTS) for clearing pending arrears of the Rural Water Supply Schemes (RWS) in the state.This has paved the way for the Finance Department to release funds to the tune of Rs. 298.61 crore against the arrears for the schemes, managed by the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation.Disclosing this here today a spokesperson of the Chief Minister's Office said that the one-time payment and settlement of bills would be subject to certain conditions. Gram Panchayat Water Supply & Sanitation Committee (GPWSC) would have to submit an undertaking that in future it would collect user charges and pay its bills regularly. Further, in case any embezzlement and collection/retention of user charges comes to notice, legal action will be taken in accordance with law and any recoveries made in pursuance of the legal action would be deposited in the state treasury.
The rural potable water supply was earlier badly affected due to non-payment of electricity dues following frequent disconnection of power supply, which adversely hampered the functioning of the various water supply schemes in rural areas.Consequently, the Water Supply and Sanitation Department (DWSS) referred the matter to PSPCL for waiver of interest and penalty on pending amount of arrear of Rs. 690 crore in respect of Rural Water Supply Schemes managed by DWSS. Meanwhile, the PSPCL and Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission accepted the plea of the department and issued a waiver order of Rs. 198.21 crore, for both rural water supply schemes managed by DWWS and GPWSC. The Finance Department had, in fact, already issued directions to Rural Development and Panchayat Department to clear Rs. 193.18 crore in respect of RWS managed by GPWSC out of 13th Finance Commission grant or One Time grant from Rural Development Fund.