Shillong: Meghalaya Public Health Engineering (PHE) Minister, Renikton Tongkhar on Tuesday refuted claims the Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti, Bishweswar Tudu was not happy with the progress of the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in Meghalaya.
Tongkhar said Tudu never expressed any dissatisfaction about the progress of the JJM in the state. He added that Tudu was only disappointed that he was not given the hard copy of the presentation given by the PHE department during a review meeting held last week.
“He did not say anything about the progress or that he wasn’t happy. Meghalaya wouldn’t have received the award twice and we are doing better compared to other states,” Tongkhar said.
He confirmed that so far 40 per cent of the work has been completed in the state with the maximum of work achieved in Garo Hills.
When asked if JJM will be completed by the March 2024 deadline, Tongkhar replied in the positive saying the department will complete the mission well before the deadline given by the Central Government.
“In fact, we had aimed to complete it by December this year but that will not be possible because we have completed only 40 per cent and to cover the 60 per cent in four months is impossible,” he said.
According to the PHE minister, the department has faced a lot of challenges while implementing the scheme. Apart from the terrain, heavy rains this year caused a major hindrance.
The minister added that they have almost achieved the target in terms of sanctioning the scheme to households.
He added that the department has sanctioned almost 5,45,000 households out of the 5,89,888 households targeted. “Slightly more than 40,000 households need to be sanctioned. I am hoping that by September we may reach full completion of sanctioning the scheme and completing at least 50 per cent household connections.”
He added that another difficulty faced was the scarcity of galvanised iron (GI) pipes.
“The price of steel was high, which led to the increase in the price of GI pipes. As the purchase of GI pipes is included in the scheme, we don’t have the budget to order additional pipes at the revised high rate because it will affect the performance of our contractors,” explained Tongkhar.
However, now that the price of steel has come down, purchase of GI pipes is possible and the scheme will be implemented as planned, he said.
The total amount sanctioned by GOI is Rs 5,467 crore for the implementation of JJM
Tongkhar said that the department estimates that another extra Rs 1,000 crore is required, bringing the total cost of the project to about Rs 6000 crore.
“The total estimate for this project was approximately 3,000-4000 crore,” said Tongkhar.
With a focus to expedite the implementation of the Jal Jeevan Mission in Meghalaya, the Government of India released 169.60 crores to the state. A Central fund of Rs 678.39 crores has been allocated to the state for 2021-22 for the implementation of the Jal Jeevan Mission, which is nearly four times the allocation for 2020-21.
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