4 months to deadline, only 8.73% Nagpur houses linked to 24X7 water project
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4 months to deadline, only 8.73% houses linked to 24X7 water projectAnjaya Anparthi, TNN | Aug 24, 2013, 03.48 AM IST
NAGPUR: With just four months to go for the deadline, Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has connected only 8.73% households to the ambitious 24X7 water supply project. Overall, only 35% of the project has been completed over the last 17 months. If it misses the deadline of December 31, 2013, NMC will not be able to claim the remaining funds approved for the scheme.
The 24X7 water project is being implemented under the central government's JNNURM scheme. NMC water works department's project status report says work has started in 20 areas (known as command areas) till August 9. The project is to be executed in 67 areas, but the plan for all areas has not been prepared yet. NMC's says plans for only 35 areas are available.
The target is to lay new water network over 574.315km and connect 2.5 lakh households to it. As of August 9, NMC has laid 202.87km water network, or 35.32% of total target. Hydraulic testing of 159.69km (27.80%) has also been completed.
The number of households connected are also very low. As of August 9, only 21,831 of the total target of 2.5 lakh houses have been connected, which is just 8.73%. The deadline for the entire project is December 31.
Shockingly, the report also says that none of the areas have been converted into truly 24X7 water supply areas. Work commenced in Nandanvan on March 1 but the area does not get 24X7 water supply despite 27.86km of total target of 27.88km new water pipeline already laid. The number of households connected stand at 4,363 as against target of 9,839.
NMC executive engineer Azizur Rehman said the problem is Nandanvan gets low pressure water supply from the new network. "The new network is at standard height, while the old network is much lower, so pressure is low in new network. The scheme will be truly launched when the new overhead water tank is brought into use," he said.
Even water losses in the area have increased in Nandanvan, say some officials. They said, "New water meters were installed on new network while water is being supplied through old network without any meters."
The JNNURM deadline for the project is December 31 to avail the approved Rs 387.86 crore by March 31, 2014. As yet, NMC has got only two of the four instalments, as it submitted only one utilization certificate. With 50% share in cost, the centre disbursed Rs 77.57 crore while state (20% share) sanctioned Rs 31.02 crore and NMC (30% share) contributed Rs 32.92 crore for a total of Rs 141.51 crore. The civic body has to claim the remaining Rs 246.35 crore after completing the project.
The centre's directives say that NMC will have to bear the remaining cost of the project if it fails to complete work within the deadline. Besides, the project cost has escalated to Rs 566.09 crore, and the extra Rs 178.23 crore has to be borne by NMC. According to the agreement, NMC's share is being contributed by private water operator Orange City Water Private Limited (OCWL), which is executing the scheme, so the entire burden will be on its shoulders.
NMC's troubles began with inordinate delay in executing the project. The centre approved it on February 13, 2009, but work started on March 1, 2012. The final deadline was March 31, 2012, but the centre extended it to December 31, 2013.
Admitting the project is lagging behind, Rehman argued it was originally planned to be implemented over five years. "This is mentioned in the agreement between NMC and OCW. But JNNURM set a deadline of two years. Citizens are not cooperating in household connection work, they do not want to pay for new meters or fear higher water bills as compared to present average water bill. Cooperation from corporators is also necessary," he said.
OCW spokesman Sachin Dravekar said the company's agreement mentioned a five-year target for the works, and it is working towards that deadline. "OCW is focusing on 'priority works', like replacing the very old network with rusted pipelines that was supplying contaminated water in many parts of the city."