Jun 22, 2012

10-15 litres of water per person per day says PHE

When I was interning for Indian Express, Kolkata last summer, I had gone to the Town Hall & done my first ever 'City' beat story. However, there was some communication gap & the article never got printed. While the players have changed considerably, the core issue is still the same. Publishing it here so that at least I don't feel like my reporting went to waste:

10-15 litres of water per person per day says PHE

Monday afternoon at Town Hall was a call for celebration and debate as Mayor Sovan Chatterjee was congratulated by the various chairmen of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) on his win by majority as Mayor of Kolkata.

After the initial mood of celebration, Public Health Engineering (PHE) minister Subrata Mukherjee spoke about the water supply issue in West Bengal. He added that 4 hours into taking the oath as the new CM, Mamata Banerjee declared that clean water must be supplied to each area in the state.

The target is that each citizen of the state receives 10-15 litres of drinking water a day. Research has been carried out as to which area has how much consumable water, based on which work will be carried out. Areas with nearby water sources will tap the water by constructing dams and canals. For areas without nearby water sources, outsourcing will be done from the nearest rivers using pipelines after the water is refined.

"This is a challenging job but it is not impossible," said Subrata Mukherjee of PHE. "Puruliya and Bankura which have very little water and are our focus areas," he adds.

Questioning the feasibility of water supply work in Bankura, Shampa Dariya, Bankura Municipal Chairperson says "We have started a water augmentation programme already but the project is being declared unviable because of unscientific methods used. The KMC should send a technical team and clarify if it is usable water or not because 5 crore has already been spent and we don't have money to waste further."

The main problem with implemnting any water related projects is not getting the fund but rather, getting the 'matching grants' from the Centre. Saugata Roy, Union Minister of State for Urban Development said "Last year, the Centre gave 5000 crore towards water supply. Unless we get the matching grants for the figures sent this year and receive the money in hand, no work can be done in this field."

Water supply for all, 10-15 litres of drinking water each day per head, no water tax levied and no metering processes, proper disimbursement of funds, minority development, and public relation wherein people can go to the Writers' Building with their woes and meet the concerned minister are some of the intended changes that the Mayor, Soham Chaterjee declared would take place.

Firhad Hakim, the new Public Works Department(PWD) as well as Municipal Affairs and Urban Development minister was also present. He concluded the meeting with a moving speech saying "We are the representatives of the municipality and we are aware of the problems. But we must have faith in Mamata Banerjee as our CM. When there is a will, there is a way. And we will find that way!"

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