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West Bengal Drinking Water Sector Improvement Project

Maybe, a mouthful name, but the Project is meant to bring mouthful of potable water, scarce in their habitats, to about 2.6 million residents in some of the geologically unfortunate pockets of rural, semi urban and urban Bengal.

In the Project target areas, reality is rude: The ground water is naturally contaminated. There isn’t enough safe drinking water on the surface for the increasing population. And the time has been ticking away.

The situation was begging intervention, capacity building or enhancement measures. The State Government was looking for a pathway for a sustainable solution. The aim of this special Project thus is water security in the select areas. The Public Health Engineering Department, Government of West Bengal had articulated its intent and the goal in its Vision 2020 document way back in 2011.

The felt need was to identify and augment surface water sources nearby; scale up the existing storage, treatment and lay piping systems and reach door to door. Through this project, the WBPHED developed and designed the answer to the natures challenge.

PHED created WBDWSIP, the specific project implementation arm, to spearhead the actions on the ground in 15 administrative blocks of 4 districts. The principal Project commitments were set: time-bound delivery, technically and economically sustainable provisioning of safe drinking water 24x7 to every household in each habitation.

Involvement of locals through Panchayet system and gradual phasing out of unsafe water usage are key adopted components of the comprehensive exercise.

In the current phase, this 70 percent Asian Development Bank funded quality Water Supply Project, is focused on the already affected locations in the State: the fluoride occurring areas of Bankura, arsenic-affected blocks of North and South 24 Parganas as well as certain saline zones in East Medinipur.

The Project Management Unit and its three Project Implementation wings have moved in to achieve a sustainable, inclusive and gender-responsive drinking water service delivery mechanism, benchmarked strictly at the prescribed quality conforming to IS 10525.

Work on the identified sub-Projects such as raw water sources, be it the surface water (river, artificial and natural water bodies as well as harvested reservoir) or ground water; land and location issues, setting up treatment plants with appropriate state of the art technology, pumping, booster stations and piping networks has begun.