"It will sound the death knell for TWAD Board"
It will spark caste clashes Local bodies have financial constraintsThey do not have the expertise or manpower
MADURAI: The Workers' Federation of Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board has expressed its apprehension that handing over maintenance of combined water supply schemes (CWSS) to local bodies will spark caste clashes.
In a circular dated June 26, 2006, the Engineering Director of TWAD Board has asked the Executive Engineers of Maintenance Divisions to hand over the CWSS involving two to three village panchayats to the village panchayats concerned in consultation with the Collectors.
K.K.N. Rajan, State vice-president of the federation, listed out various shortcomings. "Firstly, the local bodies are financially poor. Secondly, they do not have the expertise or manpower." Stating that water was becoming scarce, Mr. Rajan felt that it would not be easy for local bodies to share the available resource among themselves in the years to come. "The board has witnessed many disputes over water sharing among villages. In the absence of a single agency to monitor the scheme, it will be difficult to keep the local bodies from overdrawing water and ensuring equitable distribution of the available resource," he said.
"This can also spark caste clashes when two villages differ over sharing water," he said. Besides, more problems would stem from political differences among the leaders in different local bodies.
The decision was against the very essence of forming the TWAD Board. It was formed during the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam regime in 1971 only after the National Water Supply and Sanitation Committee of the Union Health Ministry stressed the need for a single agency to take up all works related to water schemes. "Investigation, design, execution, operation and maintenance are all integrated functions of the public health engineering department and the agencies in charge of the functions should not be divorced from one another," the report said, adding, "Experience has shown that the designer should not be divorced from the execution or maintenance and vice versa."
Panel finding stands good
The committee's observation made in 1960-61 still stands good. With local bodies wanting in expertise in maintenance of water projects, many schemes would break down as it had been pointed out in the report. It said, "Most often, it (maintenance) was neglected in the past, as a result of which villagers were helpless against inefficient operation and maintenance of a system or its breakdown in consequence". If the move was implemented it would sound the death knell for the TWAD Board, Mr. Rajan said.