Tuesday, December 05, 2023

90% urban people in Himachal don't have adequate water supply: CAG

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | April 07, 2023 01:38 PM

SHIMLA: With 90 per cent urban and 40 per cent people in Himachal Pradesh yet to get adequate water supply, the mountainous state endowed with five important perennial rivers fed particularly by glaciers did not frame a long-term comprehensive water security plans at state level, according to a new report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

The state aims to provide 135 litres per capita per day (lpcd) to all urban and 70 lpcd to rural population by 2030.

However, the CAG's performance audit of drinking water services from 2016 to 2021 says only 10.39 per cent of urban population and 61.43 per cent of rural population is being supplied water of at least 135 lpcd and 70 lpcd, respectively.

According to the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, 135 lpcd has been suggested as the benchmark for urban water supply. For rural areas, a minimum service delivery of 55 lpcd has been fixed under Jal Jeevan Mission, which may be enhanced to higher level by states.

The requirement of water in the state was projected to increase to 726.46 million litres per day (MLD) -- 575.97 MLD in rural areas and 150.49 MLD in urban areas -- in 2021.

The requirement in 1999 was 454.53 MLD with rural areas having 384.32 MLD, while urban areas 70.21 MLD.

According to the national auditor, the water supply schemes had not been transferred to communities and Panchayati Raj Institutions for their management and augmentation.

It said residual chlorine levels were not tested through chloroscopes to monitor the bleaching of the drinking water. Also, bleaching powder was issued for chlorination after their useful life.

The auditor said funds received under the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Jal Jeevan Mission and National Rural Drinking Water Programme were diverted outside the scope of programmes.

The CAG recommends the state may like to ensure that village water and sanitation committees participate in planning, monitoring, implementation and operation and maintenance of rural water supply schemes and the schemes are monitored regularly.

It should be ensured that allocated funds are optimally utilised and irregular diversion of drinking water funds for other areas or works may be avoided.

Immediate remedial steps may be taken to ensure both quality and minimum quantity of promised drinking water to residents by repairing and augmenting the water supply installations.

Also the auditor forvoured accreditation of all laboratories from the National Accreditation Board. At the same time adequate and qualified staff may be engaged for the laboratories.

For adequate monitoring, vigilance and monitoring committees need to be set up.

It is essential that the review committee at apex level for review of progress of major works costing Rs 5 crore and above is constituted urgently, it said.

Regarding financial management for Central government funded drinking water supply schemes, the national auditor observed that the financial management was inefficient and uneconomical.

Funds were diverted and excess expenditure was incurred reducing availability of funds for the sanctioned schemes. Funds of Rs 35.79 crore withdrawn from treasury and received from Deputy Commissioners and other divisions were lying unutilized in test-checked divisions for 10 to 79 months.

As communities had not been encouraged to contribute to the schemes, the envisaged community ownership had not happened.

Out of total 18,60,585 households in the state, 14,25,114 were provided with functional household tap connections till June 2021.

The government had a fixed target to provide all rural households (17,04,231) with functional household tap connections by August 2022 under Jal Jeevan Mission. No targets were framed for connectivity for urban households (156,354).

Picking holes in the working of the State Water and Sanitation Mission, set up under the Jal Shakti Vibhag, to provide policy guidance, convergence of water supply and sanitation activities.

The mission was mandated to meet at least twice in a year i.e. a minimum of 10 meetings were to be held from 2016-21. It, however, conducted only two meetings, said the CAG.

Located in the western Himalayas, covering an area of 55,673 sq km, the state population was 68.65 lakh as per Census 2011, an increase from 60.78 lakh in 2001. It is 0.57 per cent of India's population.

There are approximately 1.96 lakh water sources in the state as of March 2021.

The drinking water is supplied through gravity water supply schemes and lift water supply schemes. Under gravity water systems the water is transported through gravity from the source to users through a piped network without use of any external energy.

In the lift water system, water is transported by using external energy through fuel based or electric power using pumps.

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