The flagship initiative that aims to provide safe piped drinking water to all households in the State by the end of 2018. As most of households don’t have water connections or safe drinking water sources, this scheme is vital for their overall health and wealth too.
The project, which was initially called the Telangana Drinking Water Supply Project, was renamed by chief minister Rao in December 2015, after Bhagiratha, a mythical king who is credited with bringing River Ganga from the heavens to the earth.
The CM’s interest in the water grid project has a long history too. In 1996-97, when Rao was a MLA of Siddipet, he implemented a similar project but on a smaller scale.
At a cost of Rs 60 crore, the Siddipet drinking water project [as was called then] supplied water to households in 180 villages that were a part of Rao’s Siddipet constituency. It involved collecting water from Lower Manair Dam and supplying it to households. The project is still operational.
The Rs 42,000 crore drinking water scheme was officially launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Komatibanda village of Gajwel constituency on 7 August, 2016. The scheme that has been introduced by the State government is a water grid project that aims to provide safe drinking water to all even to remotest places in the state. The objective of the mission is to provide 100 litres and 150 litres of clean water per person in rural and urban households respectively. Over 25,000 rural and 67 urban habitations have been covered under the scheme. Along with Krishna and Godavari River, water from Nizam Sagar, Sriram Sagar, Komuram Bheem, Jurala Dam and Parelu reservoirs will also be utilised in this project.
The main pipeline connected with several sublines is spread over 5000 km throughout the state that will provide water to 99 constituencies. A total of 50,000 km sidelines will be stretched across the different places of the state to provide water to the habitations. The secondary pipelines will carry water to tanks in habitations from where a village-level pipeline network extending 75,000km will supply water to households in the state.
Apart from providing a sustainable and permanent solution to the drinking water, it also aims to rejuvenate more than 45000 water tanks.
The project comprises of 26 segments in 9 districts. The stages involved in the entire water supply chain include: sourcing water from major rivers or reservoirs fed by these rivers, purify the raw water in nearby water treatment plant, pump treated water to the major OHSRs and sumps at the highest points, transmit from the highest point through secondary pipeline network to all the habitations by gravity and distribute to each house hold through a modern, rationalise intra village network by providing tap connections to each household.
The CM has divided the implementation of the project into two parts. Part-I is to cover at least half of the total habitations by year-end, and this has already been achieved.
The Part-II [deadline of June 2018] has been fixed to cover all habitations. However, with most work already reaching the completion stage, the government is confident about meeting the deadline by April 2018.
Nearly 90% of the main work has been completed in the State and the rest 10% would be completed soon. The Rural Water Supply Department is ready with an action plan to fullfill the promise of providing clean drinking water to all by the year end.
In a laudable move, the CM had announced earlier in the year that Dalit habitations in every village that gets connection for drinking water supply under Mission Bhagiratha project would be given water first before other habitations in that village by fixing household tap connections on priority basis. Rao also explained that the decision was made to ensure that the Dalits are not marginalised further. He also promised that the tribal areas would also get piped drinking water on priority for they like the Dalits have been neglected for years.
Mission Bhagiratha’ vice-chairman Vemula Prashanth Reddy, who reviewed the work in November along with all the SEs, DEs and work agencies recalled that the Chief Minister had taken up the programme to address perennial problem of drinking water that made Telangana women walk kilometers to fetch drinking water.
Prashanth Reddy said that once the project is complete women need not go out in search of water. He was all praise for the Mission Bhagiratha staff as they toiled hard to complete the work on a war-footing. During the review, he also emphasised that the work should be executed with the same zeal so that the programme can be completed well before the schedule.
Union Minister for Water Supply and Sanitation, Ramesh Jigajinagi, also described the Mission Bhagiratha as the role model for entire country in providing drinking water to all households.
Jigajinagi also said that no other State in the country has so far been able to implement a scheme which could provide safe drinking water to the households in the rural and urban areas. He said he would conduct a detailed review of the scheme. He said it was heartening to note that the major part of the scheme was based on supplying water using gravity.
Trial runs of drinking water supply under the State government’s prestigious project are also about to begin. The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWS&S) department has recently issued directions to the work agencies to complete the remaining work including installation of pumps and motors to enable them start trial runs. The State government is keen on supplying drinking water to all villages in the State from January.
In another review meeting held on 16 December by District Collector Anitha Ramachandran with the Mandal Parishad Development Officers (MPDOs), she stated that the intra-village works of Mission Bhagiratha were at the level of completion in the district. Ramachandran also directed the officials to inform her immediately about the incomplete intra-pipeline and tap fixing works, if there are any villages during their field visit.
In addition to the households, all the government schools in the State will also get 24-hour tap water connection under the mission to provide safe drinking water to the students. The State government is also discussing plans to construct overhead tanks on the premises of government schools.