The slow progress made in the execution of some components of the Rs.221.42 crore drinking water supply augmentation scheme has triggered concern among elected representatives as well as residents in the city.
The issue echoed at last week’s corporation council meeting as it had in several other previous meetings over the past year. At Friday’s meeting, a section of councillors expressed concern over the pace of the work, especially in laying of pumping and distribution mains, under the project. Contrary to official assurances the project has made tardy progress. While opposition councillors have been open and vocal in criticising the pace of work, ruling party representatives express dissatisfaction in private.
The project, financed by Japan International Cooperation Agency, was sanctioned in 2007 and the works actually commenced by 2008-2009. Being executed under eight different packages, the tenders were awarded at various points of time in the past few years.
The project seeks to step up per capita drinking water supply to 135 litres a day and ensure equitable distribution to all parts of the city. With three new collector wells having been erected on the Coleroon river bed, the scheme will tap about 58.60 million litres a day (MLD) immediately on completion and 93.26 MLD by the ultimate stage in 2039.
Currently, the city gets about 96 MLD of water supply and the corporation is hoping to get another 60 MLD within the next few months. The corporation has been planning to commission the project in stages and has already started tapping water from the first collector well of the new scheme to enhance supply to some parts of the city currently served by the Golden Rock Drinking Water Scheme.
When some councillors complained over the delay in laying the distribution mains and other works, officials had to concede that there has been some delay in some of the works. Commissioner V.P.Thandapani informed the council last week that house tap connections would be provided from eight of the new tanks built under the scheme before January 31. Supply from eight more is to begin by February end, he said. But many councillors wonder when the project would be completed fully.
Faced with the necessity of having to pay its contribution of the project cost, the civic body has been collecting deposits for new connections in places where the overhead tanks are ready. As many as 37 new overhead tanks are to be built under the new scheme to cater to areas which are facing short supply. But according to sources, only about 24 tanks have reached completion, while the rest are in various stages of construction.
Construction of overhead tanks at many places is making tardy progress. For instance, work on overhead tank at Jaya Nagar off Dindigul highway has almost come to a standstill over the past six months for reasons best known to the corporation. Another tank at Renga Nagar has also seen little progress in construction in recent months.
Several councillors, on condition of anonymity, express dissatisfaction over the progress of works on the project. “At places where tanks have been built, pumping and distribution lines have not been fully laid. In some other places, pumping and distribution lines have been laid, but tanks are not ready yet,” a councillor said.
Despite repeated and regular meetings to review the project, the corporation has not been able to meet the deadline. At a review meeting chaired by Local Administration Minister a few months ago, officials had assured that the major part of the project would be commissioned by December this year, pointed out a councillor.
But going by the current pace, the project might take another year to complete, he said.