The Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) has finalised a comprehensive scheme for supplying purified drinking water to all villages in the state.

Karnataka is now on the threshold of giving a total facelift to the quality of life in rural areas and in what is described as the first such attempt in the country, all households in villages will be provided with access to clean drinking water and sanitation within a given timeframe.

The Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) has finalised a comprehensive scheme for supplying purified drinking water to all villages, given the fact that nearly 60 per cent of diseases afflicting the rural population is waterborne. Over 1,000 water purification plants are to be set up with each village having a plant to serve a population of 5,000 to 10,000.

During an interview with The Hindu, RDPR Minister H.K. Patil said he wanted to ensure that the money set apart for the uplift of the rural masses was spent. Though the government spent huge funds, a large section of the rural population still did not have access to pure drinking water or good sanitation, he said.

The implementation of the new scheme would commence shortly and the first such water purification plant would be inaugurated on the next Republic Day. The cost and the purification process to be adopted may vary depending on the population size to be served and the quality of water (the water source being borewells, tanks or even a river). Water supply experts had already commenced work in certain pockets of the State after completing a survey of the villages that require the purification plants.

Yet another path-breaking scheme on which work has commenced is providing toilets to all households in rural areas. A pilot project is being implemented at Koganahalli in Nippani taluk of Belgaum district. “It is the desire of the government to provide each household with a bath-cum-toilet facility.”

Mr. Patil said the government was looking at prefabricated construction technology to hasten the process of providing bath-cum-toilets. Each such facility is expected to cost around Rs. 30,000 and the beneficiaries are to contribute Rs. 3,000.

The Union government had evinced interest in the rural development programme chalked out by Karnataka and promised financial support. Of the total plan outlay of Rs. 8,250 crore for RDPR, the State government receives nearly Rs. 4,500 crore from the Union government.

The Department of RDPR is also implementing several other rural water supply schemes, Centrally sponsored Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme, Sub-Mission Projects for rural habitations with water quality problems under the Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission and Externally Aided Projects with the assistance of World Bank and Danish International Development Agency (Danida).

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