The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has extended the deadline of making villages along the Ganga free from open defecation from March 31 to May this year as only 76 per cent of them have met the target. MDWS Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government had set a target to make 4,300 villages along the banks of Ganga, across 52 districts and five states, open-defecation free (ODF) by March 31 this year. “However, the target could not be achieved and the deadline has been extended up to May this year,” Tomar said. MDWS Secetary Parmeswaran Iyer said some 3300 villages of the 4300, which comes to around 76 per cent, are now open defecation free. Akshay Rout, Officer on Special Duty in the MDWS and project in-charge, said that polls in Uttarkhand and Uttar Pradesh and floods along the banks had delayed the work. “The next target would be have a good liquid and solid waste management in these villages,” Rout said. Tomar said that till date a total of 1.75 lakh villages in 118 districts have become open defecation free.
Tomar also said the government is working on a plan to provide tapped war to all by 2030, as he launched the ‘National Water Quality Sub-Mission’ today to provide clean drinking water to 28,000 fluoride and arsenic-hit localities across the country by 2021. Speaking at a workshop on ‘Water for All’ organised by his ministry on the occasion of World Water Day, Tomar said as per the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, every family should have tapped drinking water by 2030. “On the same lines, the government is also working on a scheme to have tapped drinking water to all by 2030. The Centre is also discussing this scheme with the states, which requires an investment of nearly Rs 5-6 lakh crore,” Tomar said. The minister said if the Centre’s share is to be taken into account, it comes to around Rs 23,000 crore, which is much higher than its annual budget.
Pointing that several lives have been lost due to diseases arising from drinking arsenic-polluted water, Tomar said West Bengal is largely affected due to this while water in Rajasthan has large content of fluoride, resulting in disabilities. “The government is trying to provide tapped drinking water for all, but the priority remains to deal with areas affected by fluoride, arsenic, iron and nitrate,” Tomar said.