Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday launched the second World Bank-funded Rs.2,200-crore project aimed at improving water and sanitation services and creating open defecation-free environment in the state.
He sought further World Bank assistance for skill development, reviving rural economy and promoting tourism and culture.
In his address on the occasion, Badal thanked the World Bank, especially country director Onno Ruhl, for getting the project sanctioned much before the closure of the ongoing project, costing Rs.750 crore, on June 30.
He expressed confidence that with the concerted efforts of the state, departments of water supply and sanitation and rural development and panchayats would set an example by completing this gigantic task within two years, much ahead of the deadline of 2019 fixed by the Indian government under 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan' (Clean Indian Programme).
"I am delighted to learn that the total achievement under the first project was 125 percent which is unprecedented so far in any development project funded by the World Bank in the country," the chief minister said.
The new project aims to provide a toilet and water connection in all the households within next three years. Likewise, all the existing rural water supply schemes would be augmented to provide 70 litres per capita per day (lpcd) against the current consumption of 40 lpcd.
Badal pointed out that enhancement of water supply scheme to 70 lpcd would make it technically feasible to provide water connections to all households as required.
"This, in turn, would lead to financial sustainability of rural water supply schemes and the villagers would have access to minimum 10-hour water supply."
Badal said Punjab was already committed to provide clean and safe water to people, especially in rural areas, and earmarked Rs.300 crore to provide treated surface water to 121 villages of Moga and Barnala districts.
Speaking on the significance of skill development, the chief minister urged the World Bank's country director to help Punjab in training the youth to be gainfully employed.
He also sought the World Bank support and cooperation for allowing the state to have an exclusive water supply and sanitation sub-project on design, build, operate terms for 110 waterlogged villages in Muktsar, Fazilka, Bathinda and Faridkot districts of the Malwa belt.
Badal also sought funding for ongoing tourism and cultural projects to showcase state's glorious heritage and rich legacy across the globe.
A spokesperson for the government told IANS that World Bank country director Ruhl, who met Badal over dinner Tuesday, said he would again visit the state next month to have detailed discussions on skill development, reviving rural economy and promoting tourism and culture.