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Rural Malwa crying for purified water as RO plants go out of order

SAD-BJP govt had set up over 1,000 reserve osmosis plants in region, where underground water is not suitable for drinking.

punjab Updated: Nov 11, 2017 15:31 IST
Sarbmeet Singh
Sarbmeet Singh
Hindustan Times, Muktsar
Rural Malwa,Malwa,reserve osmosis
At present, a large number of RO plants are lying dysfunctional in the region. Some of these went out of order as the underground water is highly polluted.(HT File)

People in rural areas of Malwa are once again crying for purified water as a large number of RO (reserve osmosis) plants set up in the region have gone out of order.

The underground water in the region is not suitable for drinking as it has a TDS (total dissolved solids) count of more than 1,000 mg per litre. An RO plant purifies the underground water by reducing its TDS up to 250.

Over 1,800 RO plants were installed in the state under the previous SAD-BJP regime. Of these, more than 1,000 were set up in Malwa only. Several such plants were inaugurated in Muktsar by Manpreet Singh Badal, who was finance minister in that government too.

These plants were handed over to three private companies which are responsible for their operation and maintenance. They charge Rs 100 per household on a monthly basis for RO water supply. A family gets 600 litre water a month from the RO plant.

At present, a large number of these RO plants are lying dysfunctional. Some of these went out of order as the underground water is highly polluted.

The dysfunctional RO plants have not been repaired for a long time by the companies operating them. Village panchayats are lacking adequate funds to operate them.

“We are now forced to bring water from far-off places as RO system of our village was closed six months ago,” said Rajwinder Singh of Warring village in Muktsar district.

Lubaniawali sarpanch Gurjinderpal Singh said, “The RO system of our village has not been working for a year or so. We have asked the authorities several times to fix it, but to no avail.”

When contacted, Muktsar executive engineer (XEN) Amreek Singh said, “There are 116 RO plants in villages of Muktsar division, of which 20 are dysfunctional. We have written to the higher authorities and these will be made operational soon.”

Malout division XEN Jasveer Singh Aujla said, “A total of 16 ROs in Malout are out of order. A majority of people have ROs in their houses, so they don’t take water from RO plant.”

Tarsem Singh of Khet Majdoor Union said, “Labour class can’t afford RO system at homes. The government has failed to even provide safe drinking water to the people.”

Meanwhile, workers of RO plants alleged exploitation at the hands of private companies running them.

RO worker union state president Raghuveer Sagar said, “Most of our workers are graduates. We have been working on Rs 2,500 per month for the past seven years. The companies running these plants are exploiting us.”

HT’s repeated attempts to contact rural development and panchayats minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal remained unsuccessful.

First Published: Nov 11, 2017 15:29 IST