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NITI Aayog project hangs in balance

NITI Aayog project hangs in balance

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  27 Dec 2017 12:00 AM GMT

SOLAR-POWERED WATER TREATMENT PLANTS

Dispur stumbles over utilisation certificate; Agency irate over pending dues

BY OUR STAFF REPORTERR

GUWAHATI, Dec 26: The plight of people living in the arsenic and fluoride-affected areas of Assam is unlikely to change for the better any time soon. At least that’s what the indications are given the current status of implementation of a wholly Centrally-funded water purification project.

tiol Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog had in February 2016 sanctioned setting up 96 solar power-operated community water treatment plants across arsenic and fluoride-affected areas of the State at a total cost of Rs 10.51 crore.

Each plant was to cost Rs 12 lakh approximately and the entire cost was to be borne by the Central Government. The state Public Health Engineering (PHE) department was the nodal agency for executing the task.

However, till date, only 20 such plants have been successfully set up, even as there is a question mark over the fate of the remaining plants… And not without reason! The company hired for setting up the plants has alleged that it has not received any payment for setting up the 20 solar-power operated community water treatment plants so far. It has now threatened to not complete installation of the remaining 76 plants, if its pending dues are not cleared immediately.

On the other hand, the State Government has so far not submitted utilisation certificate (UC) for the fund released so far. NITI Aayog had given Dispur December 31, 2017 as the deadline for submission of UC. The Central agency had warned earlier that, if it did not receive UC from the State Government, it would not release the remaining amount. But, even as the deadline is drawing near, Dispur is yet to submit the UC thereby putting a big question mark over the successful implementation of the entire project.

According to PHE Minister Rihon Daimary, water sources in 23 districts, including Kamrup (Metro), have been found to be turally contamited with arsenic and fluoride. He told the Assam Legislative Assembly a few months back that so far 3,25,079 water samples had been tested from sources across the State, out of which 10,301 had arsenic, while 1,298 had fluoride.

Daimary also added that these tested water sources comprised only 59.14% of the total water sources in the State.

As reported by The Sentinel recently, a recent Government statistics has shown that Assam is among the 10 worst affected States in the country having contamited drinking water.

Experts contend that the presence of chemical contamints in drinking water like arsenic and fluoride may result in a variety of diseases, including physical infirmities.

It may be mentioned that for improving the coverage of safe drinking water to rural population in the backdrop of arsenic and fluoride contamints, the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation supplements the efforts of the State Governments by providing them with technical and fincial assistance through the Centrally-sponsored tiol Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP).

It is the responsibility of the State Governments concerned to plan, design, approve, execute, operate and maintain the schemes for providing clean drinking water. Up to 67% of funds provided to the States under NRDWP can be utilized for coverage and tackling water quality problems with priority to arsenic and fluoride affected habitations, sources explained.

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