Today's Paper

PM launches rural water scheme

NEW DELHI DEC. 25. The Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, today called for a collective, all-party effort towards solving the rural drinking water problem in a time-bound manner.

He was speaking after launching a new initiative in rural drinking water, `Swajaldhara', here today. To begin with, the project is being launched in four northern States, two eastern and one State each in west and south India on an initial outlay of Rs. 87 crores.

Pointing out that work had been initiated on one of the biggest problems facing the rural masses, Mr. Vajpayee emphasised the need to educate the people on saving water, preventing wastage and maintaining the assets created through the `Swajaldhara' programme. He also referred to the proposal for linking all the rivers, which could lead to a permanent solution to the problem.

During the ceremony, the Prime Minister held a video-conference with the sarpanchs of Awalpur village in Adilabad, Andhra Pradesh, Malkup village in Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra, and Gohakalan village in Lucknow district, Uttar Pradesh.

The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati, the Union Minister, Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, and the Andhra Pradesh Rural Development Minister, M. Janardhan Reddy, also spoke to the Prime Minister during the video-conference.

Under the `Swajaldhara' scheme, 10 per cent of the project and maintenance costs will be borne by the village or the panchayat and the rest by the Union Ministry of Rural Development.

Initially, the project is being launched in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. A total of 882 projects, costing Rs. 87 crores, have been sanctioned under the scheme.