The State Government has planned to seek a loan from the World Bank for implementing a Rs. 902.20-crore “Kannada Ganga” drinking water project in 15 urban local bodies (ULBs) in four divisions of the State. The major objective of the project is to ensure 24/7 drinking water supply to residents of ULBs.

Minister for Urban Development S. Suresh Kumar and officials of the Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board (KUWSDB) have already held the first round of talks in Bangalore with World Bank (WB) experts Ramesh Mukulla, M. Kullappa, Nicholas Bilgrim and Ravi Joseph. The meeting with the World Bank officials was a fruitful one, Mr. Suresh Kumar told The Hindu. In the first phase, 15 ULBs have been short-listed for implementation of the project and they are: Sedam, Humnabad, Chitaguppa (Gulbarga division), Hukkeri, Sankeshwar, Bijapur (Belgaum division), Mandya, Srirangapatna, Kadur, Birur, Kushalnagar (Mysore division), Shimoga, Tirthahalli, Tumkur, Tiptur (Bangalore division).

The estimated cost is as follows: Sedam – Rs. 16.67 crore, Humnabad – Rs. 24.60 crore, Chitaguppa – Rs. 15.70 crore, Hukkeri – Rs. 22.45 crore, Sankeshwar – Rs. 38.21 crore, Bijapur – Rs. 106.75 crore, Mandya – Rs. 114 crore, Srirangapatna – Rs. 23.18 crore, Kadur – Rs. 21.99 crore, Birur – Rs. 13.38 crore, Kushalnagar – Rs. 15 crore, Shimoga – Rs. 231 crore, Tirthahalli – Rs. 16.50 crore, Tumkur – Rs. 182.75 crore, Tiptur – Rs. 60 crore.

Mr. Suresh Kumar, who held talks with the World Bank team, said funds available under the North Karnataka Urban Sector Investment Programme (NKUSIP) (Rs. 10.30 crore) would be utilised for implementing the project. The KUWSDB would appoint technical consultants for all ULBs to carry out technical studies and be a part of the project in the implementation phase.

The existing water supply system is plagued with several problems such as low supply rate with uneven schedules, disparities in area coverage, leakages, poor maintenance, low-cost recovery on account of unauthorised connections and unwillingness to pay for the services, and lack of financial resources with ULBs to ensure regular water supply.

The project envisages provision of continuous, round-the-clock supply of potable water at a given pressure at every point in the distribution network.

The KUWSDB would set up a 24/7 cell to implement the project and it will be equipped with technical, commercial, legal and financial experts.

Officials said the Department of Urban Development will soon seek approval from the State Cabinet for seeking the loan from the World Bank as well as for implementing the project in 15 ULBs. Each of the ULBs will have to pass resolutions for participation in the project and each of them has to sign an agreement with the KUWSDB for executing the project. Besides, ULBs will have to make an upfront contribution to meet cost of the project. It is proposed that the organisation and management costs be met from the water charges/connection charges collected from consumers.

Officials said a project monitoring committee (PMC) would be constituted to supervise and monitor the performance of the respective and obligations of the concerned parties. The Secretary of the Department of Urban Development would be the chairman of the PMC.