The World Bank has given its approval, in principle, for the second phase of the Jalanidhi Project in Kerala costing Rs. 1,000 crore.

The Bank has also approved another Rs. 1000-crore project aimed at strengthening the panchayats and municipalities in the State on various fronts.

Kerala Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran told a press conference here on Friday the second phase of the Project could be taken up by 2010 after completing the modalities for final approval from the World Bank. The World Bank loan for the Project would come to about Rs. 800 crore.

The Minister said about 5 lakh families in 300 village panchayats would benefit from the Project. It would be implemented in three stages over five years. Besides schemes catering to villages separately, there would also be multi-village projects. The water for the multi-village projects would be supplied by the Kerala Water Authority in bulk and distributed by the panchayats. Maintenance of the distribution system and collection of revenue would be the responsibility of the panchayats.

He said reduction of the beneficiary contribution under the schemes from 15 per cent to 10 per cent was under consideration of the Bank. Reduction of contribution by Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe families from ten per cent to five per cent was also being considered. A Planning Mission of the Bank would visit the State this month-end to decide on arrangements and procedures for implementation of the Project.

He said the Project for strengthening of the panchayats and municipalities would be taken up in 999 panchayats and 53 municipalities of Kerala. The details were to be worked out.

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