The uncertainty that has been a feature of the Alappuzha Drinking Water Project right from its conception is still continuing, despite recent developments.

The project, conceived in 2007 to ensure pure water to the Alappuzha Municipality and eight surrounding panchayats as part of the Centre’s Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) at an initial cost estimate of Rs.151.94 crore, has been given approval on Saturday to issue tenders for construction of an intake well and pump house at Cyclemukku, Kadapra in Pathanamthitta, from where water is to be taken to a treatment plant at Karumadi in Alappuzha.

A high-level meeting at Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday, apart from deciding to call for tenders for Rs.2.92 crore works for the well and pump house, also decided to call for tenders for laying of pipelines from Kadapra to Karumadi, a 19.3km stretch. The pipeline tenders will be given as three packages, keeping in mind the huge costs involved.

However, what still keeps the project in a web of uncertainty is the fact that though the pipeline laying work from Kadapra and Karumadi has been approved, there are four more such stretches that have to be approved. A meeting to be held in early November is expected to take a decision on this.

Causing more concern is the delay in sanction of approval to the detailed project report (DPR) of the entire project. The DPR, originally drawn out for Rs.151.94 crore was revised in 2009 to Rs.247.65 crore, a move that triggered much controversy and grave irregularities being pointed out.

Even as work began with whatever funds were allowed from the Centre, a third DPR was submitted in June 2010, bringing down the cost estimate to Rs.188.33 crore, which earlier this year, was again revised to Rs.193 crore. The fourth DPR is yet to be approved by the government, and with construction costs escalating in the general market, what lies ahead for the project is unclear.

The project envisages water from Kadapra in Pathanamthitta coming via a treatment plant at Karumadi near Ambalapuzha to Alappuzha municipality and the eight surrounding panchayats of Purakkad, Alappuzha South, Alappuzha North, Punnapra South, Punnapra North, Aryad, Mararikulam South and Mannancherry.

The treatment plant at Karumadi is nearing completion while the rest of the works have been dragging on.

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