Lack of action on a solar-based pump project to provide drinking water to 10,000 remote habitations illustrates the indifference being shown by states towards people living in Maoist-affected areas.
Months after the Centre asked the nine states under the Integrated Action Plan for proposals to install solar-energy based dual water pumps in forest habitations, where no other source of energy is available, only two states — constituting six of 82 IAP districts — have responded positively to the initiative.
IAP is meant to cover the stark development deficit in Maoist areas through the government’s proactive approach.
The scheme provides uninterrupted, clean, piped water round-the-clock, thus preventing tribals from utilising unsafe water and sparing them the drudgery of fetching water from far-off places during dry seasons.
Costing Rs. 540 crore, the project would benefit lakhs of tribals and others in these conflict zones.
“West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have sent in their proposals. The rest are yet to reply,” an official of the ministry of drinking water and sanitation (DWS) told HT.
Of the 82 IAP districts, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have three each.
The remaining 76 districts, which are yet to send proposals, are located in Andhra Pradesh (8), Bihar (11), Chhattisgarh (10), Jharkhand (17), Madhya Pradesh (10), Maharashtra (2) and Orissa (17).
The project — based on the success in Chavani, a tribal village in Maharashtra — was later replicated in 400 habitations across Gadchiroli and Gondia, the two IAP districts in the state.
It involved the installation of a solar-energy powered pump with photovoltaic arrays, bore/ tube wells and a 5,000-litre storage tank. The technology was developed by the Maharashtra Ground Water Surveys and Development Agency.
A single setup, costing Rs. 5 lakh, would cater to the drinking water needs of 30-50 households in a habitation.
The pump can be operated manually in the absence of the sun.
While Rs. 3 lakh would come from the National Clean Energy Fund, Rs. 1.5 lakh would be allocated from the National Rural Drinking Water Programme. The states only have to contribute Rs. 1.5 lakh for each project.
In September 2011, then DWS minister Jairam Ramesh had written to the CMs of the states about the scheme. Last year, the ministry had written to the States for specific proposals in their IAP districts.
“The project requires co-ordination between a few agencies. But the state’s reception and response to the scheme has been very slow. We have to remind them again,” the official said.