Staff Correspondent

  • 3 million households provided basic sanitation facilities
  • Water-harvesting structures built at the cost of $200 million

    BHOPAL: Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said on Tuesday that the Madhya Pradesh Government in association with the Water for Asian Cities Programme of the United Nations Human Settlement Programme was making all-out efforts to bring down the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

    The Chief Minister was addressing the 21st session of the Governing Council parallel event of UN-HABITAT at Nairobi in Kenya on Tuesday. According to information received here, the Chief Minister said the initiative in the four major cities -- Bhopal, Jabalpur, Indore and Gwalior -- was already being hailed as a new chapter in Community-based urban drinking water supply. This was perhaps for the first time that the community had taken upon itself the onus of capital investment for this scheme.

    An article in "Asian Water" journal titled "Will Gwalior show the way to Asian cities?" generates a sense of optimism for the future, he said.

    Mr. Chauhan said that providing access to safe drinking water and sanitation for all was a major challenge. "This is crucial for improvement of the health indices as well. Lack of sanitation facilities for the poor compels them to resort to open defecation, which has adverse environmental implications.

    Under the total sanitation campaign launched by the State Government, more than 3 million households have already been provided basic sanitation facilities and more than 400 villages have been declared free from the curse of open defecation," Mr. Chauhan said, adding that in Madhya Pradesh about 70 per cent people live in villages.

    However, only 37 per cent of the agricultural land was irrigated, the rest being rain-fed. With the changing global environment and uncertain rainfall, incidence of drought was not uncommon.

    It was the poor who suffer most in these circumstances, he said, adding that in order to ensure livelihood security and drought-proofing, a State-wide campaign called "Jai Abhishek Abhiyan" (a mass campaign for water conservation and ground water recharge) was launched in April 2006. Within a short span of time, 50,000 village Jal Abhishek Committees had taken charge of implementation of the programme which entails an action plan worth $ 1,000 million.

    More than 300,000 water -harvesting structures of various types had been built at an expenditure of $200 million.

    On the irrigation front, user groups were managing water distribution through their own "water societies", the Chief Minister said, adding that a "three-fold increase in irrigation outlays in the next Five Year Plan indicates our seriousness in harnessing available water in the State.

    All these measures would also help in increasing the availability of safe drinking water.