Hyderabad: Come October, the Telangana government will complete the Mission Bhagiratha project, which aims to supply piped drinking water across the state, including 5.5 million rural households.
The project was part of chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao’s campaign promise, and its timely completion will lift the prospects of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi during the 2019 state and general elections.
According to B. Surender Reddy, the chief engineer of the rural water and sanitation department, about 90% of the storage, pipeline and other infrastructure work have been completed. “We are already supplying water to nearly 13,000 habitations (a cluster of rural households) and the entire 24,225 areas will start getting water by December,” he added.
Mega drinking water project in Telangana may be ready by October
Reddy said the state will draw 59.94 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of water from major reservoirs of the Krishna and Godavari basins in 2018. It will set up reservoirs near villages to store potent water.
Besides rural Telangana, 1.28 million urban households across 65 local bodies will benefit from Mission Bhagiratha. The project excludes areas under the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB), which supplies water to the city and its surrounding areas.
“Earlier, the government was spending Rs.2,000 crore a year on supplying drinking water to rural areas, besides their dependence on ground water. With this project, there will be last mile connectivity to interior areas as well,” said Reddy.
Out of the total project cost of Rs.43,709 crore, the department has so far spent about Rs.23,000 crore. An additional expenditure of Rs.4,000 crore is expected.
According to Reddy, after completion, the government will fix a tariff for urban area, while supply for rural Telangana is currently free.
Kiran Kumar Vissa from the Rythu Swaraj Vedika, which works on farmer issues, said that though the project’s aim is good, the huge cost shows that the government has made it a major infrastructure project benefitting contractors. “There could have been a better way to provide drinking water without the use of such infrastructure.”
However, the Rs.80,000 crore Kaleswaram irrigation project, another pet scheme of the Telangana government, has faced roadblocks with villagers unwilling to give up their land.