For augmentation of water supply systems

The water woes of the Varkala and Nedumangad municipalities seem set to ease with both being included among the 30 municipalities that will receive financial assistance from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for augmentation of water supply systems.

The development is expected to have a more pronounced impact on the Nedumangad municipality where a majority of the 39 wards face acute shortage of water round the year. P.S. Shereef, municipal vice-chairman, Nedumangad, said water supply was available only twice, and on rare occasions, thrice a week. However, with the supply and distribution system fraught with shortcomings, including regular pipe-bursts and leakages, whatever quantity of water that was pumped in from Vattappara and Aruvikkara remained inadequate.

“The pipelines here were laid in the early 70s, and most of them are corroded, leading to daily leakages. The people are forced to depend on water tankers for water for their daily use. We are in the process of preparing a project report to submit to the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) for JICA assistance,” Mr. Shereef told The Hindu.

In Varkala, K. Surya Prakash, municipal chairman, said villages adjoining the municipal region faced more difficulties owing to inadequate supply of water. The issue of age-old pipelines and leakages was nothing new for the people of the area. The municipality, as short-term measures to mitigate the shortage till long-term projects came into being, was laying new lines wherever possible and setting up a few overhead tanks. As of now, an overhead tank at Raghunadapuram was serving the municipality, he said.

KWA managing director Ashok Kumar Singh said Nedumangad was likely to receive an assistance of nearly Rs.27 crore, while Varkala stood a chance of an assistance of Rs.20 crore. The project reports would be submitted soon.

The JICA boon for these municipalities comes as part of a new State proposal to the Japanese agency for a mammoth assistance of Rs.5,750 crore. About Rs.1,750 crore from this is for augmentation of water supply in Kochi and surrounding areas, while around Rs.2,500 crore is intended for augmentation, rehabilitation, and modernisation of water supply and distribution networks in 30 selected municipalities. About Rs.800 crore is to be set aside for rural water supply schemes, while around Rs.500 crore is to pumped into a desalination plant project for Kollam.

“Maintenance of our supply and distribution networks has been a neglected part for long. Most of the municipalities have pipelines that were laid 40 to 50 years ago and require replacement, apart from augmentation, with the population going up. The total project cost could be between Rs.5,750 crore to Rs.6,000 crore, for which project reports will be submitted soon,” Mr. Singh said.