The much-awaited Alappuzha Drinking Water Project is still suffering from teething problems, which have led to the preparation of an entirely new Detailed Project Report (DPR) after nearly 30 per cent of the work was over.
The project, originally estimated to cost Rs.151.94 crore and to be implemented with Central assistance under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT), envisaged water from Kadapra in Pathanamthitta coming via a treatment plant at Karumadi near Ambalapuzha to Alappuzha municipality and eight surrounding panchayats of Purakkad, Alappuzha South, Alappuzha North, Punnapra South, Punnapra North, Aryad, Mararikulam South and Mannancherry.
With 10 per cent of the cost coming from the State government, over 2.15 lakh people were expected to benefit from the project at a daily supply rate of 135 litres per person.
However, according to the latest information from reliable sources, the original DPR of March 2006 was re-written, recently following several bottlenecks in various places. The actual plan was to have a pipeline from Thottappally to Kalavoor alongside the National Highway-47. But with the National Highway Authority not permitting this, the pipeline route had to be shifted to the coastal State highway.
Just as new estimates and tenders were being prepared in accordance with this change, the revision of scheduled rates, the additional 12-kilometres of pipeline, increase in cost of pipe materials and cost of digging up the coastal highway have forced the authorities to redraw the DPR from scratch. This escalated the project cost from Rs.151.94 crore to Rs. 247.65 crore. Though officials said the municipal council had announced that the State government would bear the extra cost, there has been no word from the government on the same.
A.A. Shukoor, MLA, and K.C. Venugopal, MP, have said the empowered committee for the project, of which they too are members, never informed them about the changes or about the new decisions. “In fact, we have never been informed about the meetings of the committee,” Mr. Shukoor told The Hindu, adding that at this rate, the project would take at least another four to five years to be completed.
Meanwhile, the shortage of drinking water is getting severe across the municipal area, with people heavily relying on the 13 treated water supply centres in the town, which in turn, have been unable to meet the demand. The situation in the nearby water-logged Kuttanad is not different, but Kuttanad is a different story altogether.