Darjeeling, Feb. 21: The Centre has given its nod to a Rs 169.2-crore project to revamp the water distribution system in the Darjeeling municipality area and will give 80 per cent of the funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
The civic body mooted the overhaul of the water distribution system as the network had been laid in the 1930s and became haphazard over the years with the addition of new connections.
Moreover, both private and commercial buildings have no meters to measure the quantum of supply and there are complaints of disproportionate and discriminatory distribution of water during summer.
The municipality had signed a memorandum of agreement with the state government in the middle of last year to streamline the water supply network in the town.
Speaking over the phone from Calcutta, Amar Singh Rai, the chairman of the Darjeeling municipality, said: “Today, a meeting of the state level sanctioning committee of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission was held in Calcutta. A video-conference was also held with officials of the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns in New Delhi. The Centre has given the nod for the Rs 169.2 crore project for revamping the water distribution system.”
The urban infrastructure development scheme is a component of the JNNURM that was initiated by the Centre in 2005.
Rai said an MoU would be signed for the project in Calcutta on February 26. The agreement will be signed by Darjeeling municipality, State Urban Development Agency (SUDA), which is the nodal agency for the implementation of the JNNURM in Bengal, and the urban infrastructure development scheme.
“According to the agreement, the Centre will fund 80 per cent of the project, while the state government will chip in 15 per cent of the amount. The Darjeeling municipality will have to contribute five per cent of the total project cost. The civic body’s contribution comes to around Rs 8 crore and the state municipal affairs department has shown its willingness to provide a long-term loan to the municipality for this purpose,” said Rai.
The Union government’s share of the project expenditure has been pegged around Rs 136 crore.
The Centre gave the nod on the condition that the municipality would have to complete the project within 30 months.
“The SUDA is already working out a timeline for us. We have been asked to immediately float tenders for soil testing. This will be followed by floating tenders to set up 30 water tanks to cover the 32 municipality wards of Darjeeling,” said Rai.
The project report also entails the construction of 14 pumping stations and relaying of the entire water pipeline network in Darjeeling.
“Once the project is completed, water meters will be introduced for both commercial and domestic consumers” said Rai.
He has said as of now, almost 40 per cent of the water lines in the town are “illegal”.
“Once the system is overhauled, we are confident that there will be no illegal connections. A proper system will also ensure that water flows evenly to all consumers.”
Darjeeling’s drinking water problem to end soon
Centre sanctions funds for project
Darjeeling, 21 Feb 2014: The perennial shortage of drinking water faced by residents in the Darjeeling municipality areas is set to end with the central government today agreeing to sanction Rs169.20 crore for revamping the existing distribution system and constructing storage tanks.
Municipality officials today held a video conference from the Writers’ Buildings in Kolkata with representatives of the central government along with state government officials.
Speaking over phone from Kolkata, Darjeeling municipality chairman Amar Singh Rai said, “The video conference with central government officials was fruitful. We convinced the Centre on the need to revamp the water distribution system in the Darjeeling municipality areas that is in a shambles at present. The officials have agreed to grant us Rs169.20 crore to implement the project.”
Rai said the central government would fund 80 per cent of the total amount, while the remaining 15 per cent will have to be borne by the state and the municipality.
“As the municipality is facing an acute monetary crisis, we will need to take a loan to meet our share from the state municipal affairs department,” said the chairman.
He said the meeting’s success was the result of months of persuasion with both state and central ministers.
“When we took up office a couple of years back, we had prioritised the drinking water problem of town. We had chalked out a comprehensive plan and submitted it to the state government. Over the months, we had constantly pursued the matter with the state urban development and municipality affairs department, with the last meeting held in November last year,” said Rai, adding the project in the pipeline is massive and would go a long way in meeting the drinking water requirements of town.
Darjeeling town requires nearly 15 lakh gallons of water on average on a daily basis. During the peak season, the town receives about 8-9 million gallons of water, but this quantity drastically drops to 4-5 million gallons during lean periods.
The overhead storage tanks installed in Rockville and St. Paul’s distribute drinking water to town and they are in turn fed by the North and South and the Sindhap Lakes in Sinchel above Jorebungalow, 15km away from Darjeeling town. The three lakes are fed by 26 jhoras (streams).
The chairman also said the water distribution project includes setting up of reservoirs in the 32 wards of the municipality including pumping stations and metre-reading systems for domestic and commercial lines.
“We will construct tanks in each of the 32 wards under the municipality. The distribution pipes are in a dilapidated state and we will repair them too to ensure smooth water flow,” said Rai.
The Darjeeling municipality will ink a Memorandum of Agreement with the concerned state and central government departments on February 26 in Kolkata to get the green signal for implementing the project.
The much hyped Balasan drinking water project that pumps water in two stages (35km uphill) to the Sinchel reservoirs is in commission. But the facility is used only during the lean season and has not been a success. EOI
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