Drinking water is not an election issue in ward number one of No. 10 Thokur village because the residents have been managing a self-financed water supply project for 12 years. They do not want their gram panchayat to take over the responsibility because they fear that it may disrupt the supply.

This ward comes under the Padu Panambur Gram Panchayat. Of the approximately 200 houses in the ward, 110 are covered by the project.

Although the infrastructure for water supply was created in 1995 under a World Bank-aided scheme, the residents partly own it because 75 households together contributed Rs. 25,000 as seed money. The infrastructure consists of an overhead tank, a borewell and four-km-long underground pipelines.

The Government handed over the project to a water users' committee in 1997-98.

President of the committee T.G. Bhandary told The Hindu that water is pumped from a borewell to a 50,000-litre capacity overhead tank twice a day, ensuring regular water supply to all houses. Water meters have been installed in all the houses and the committee collects about Rs. 8,500 a month as water charges. It incurs a monthly maintenance expenditure of about Rs. 5,000 and saves the balance, according to Mr. Bhandary. For every rupee spent, the committee supplied 667 litres of water between March 2009 and February 2010.

Each house has been issued with a water card with user details, including the quantity of water used and bills paid.

Tariff

Mr. Bhandary said that the minimum water tariff has been fixed at Rs. 75 a month for up to 15,000 litres. An additional Rs. 10 to Rs. 30 is charged for every additional 1,000 litres used in the subsequent slabs.

The committee fixed a relatively high tariff to discourage people from wasting water, he said.

The committee supplies water to a higher primary school, an anganwadi and a youth association free of cost.

Altaf Hussain and Khurshid told this correspondent that they had been using water for the past nine years.Shalini, a resident, said that the average monthly water consumption by her family does not exceed 8,000 litres.

Mr. Bhandary said that the committee planned to construct a check-dam to increase the water yield from the borewell. It also wanted to adopt technology to detect leaks and plug them quickly, he said.

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