While Centre’s ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ envisions 100 per cent piped water supply across the nation, Punjab has been trying to do it since 2006 with help of a World Bank project and has already taken piped infrastructure to 80 per cent of its rural households. But, only 50 per cent rural households in Punjab are using piped water, majorly due to presence of individual water connections that utilise ground water. The Department of Water Supply and Sanitation, Punjab runs Punjab Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (PRWSS) assisted by the World Bank for providing potable drinking water to the rural people at 70 litre per capita per day.
Punjab has 13,006 villages including around 1500 villages that depend on ‘hand pumps’ as the main source of drinking water in three zones — north, south and central — of Punjab.
”Under water supply project with the World bank, piped network has been laid in over 80 per cent of the habitations but only 50 per cent habitations are using piped water supply in Punjab,” said a senior officer in the Department of Water Supply. He added that in several villages affluent people were not ready to take piped supply and misuse ground water heavily as per the reports prepared by the department.
“Reasons for not using piped water in different districts are different, but one of the major reason which we saw for not using piped water in several districts is the dependence on individual private water sources like submersible pumps,” he said.
He said that government should make a law to ban individual water connections.
Another official said: “In some districts, poor pipe quality, leakage and doubts of supply of contaminated water also act as a major deterrent of using this water.”
“Along with piped water, meter installation must be made compulsory,” he said, adding that every Panchayat should compulsorily adopt piped water supply. There are 11.26 lakh private connections in the state.
A report of the department says that “to increase the usage of public water supply in the habitations where the public water supply infrastructure is available, every effort should be made to ensure supply of quality water. The maintenance and monitoring of piped water supply schemes (especially for leakages) is important. This challenge of undertaking effective maintenance of schemes is only possible with community participation in monitoring and report of problems…”
Director, Water Supply and Sanitation, could not be contacted. A Chief Engineer with the department, Rajinder Singh, said that in next two years by 2021, the Punjab would provide piped water supply in all the villages of the state.
There are 8319 single-village and multi-village water supply schemes in the state, which are either tubewell based (80%) or canal-based
(20%). Around 150 villages have 24×7 water supply and nearly 1900 villages get 10 hours of water supply.
Under the World Bank project, a village has to contribute just 10 per cent of the total amount for piped water supply infrastructure which comes to a nominal amount per household. An overhead water tank is installed to store water which supplies to every household through pipes. Operation and Maintenance (O&M) is managed by Gram Panchayat Water and Sanitation Committees (GPWSC). In majority of villages, there are flat water usage charges, while several villages are now also going for metered (optional) water supply. This money is used for maintenance of pipes, paying electricity bills for running motors and tubewells that lift water to storage tanks for supply.