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World Bank to help finance water schemes in Uttarakhand

New Delhi : The World Bank has agreed to provide a loan of $120 million (about Rs 780 crore) to finance several schemes aimed at improving water supply services in peri-urban areas of Uttarakhand.

The Centre, Uttarakhand Government and the World Bank Board signed the loan agreement on January 23. While the World Bank will provide assistance to the tune of Rs 780 crore, the State Government will contribute Rs 195 crore as its share to finance schemes worth about Rs 975 crore in 35 semi-urban areas of Dehradun and six other districts in Uttarakhand.

The programme will commence in 2018 and end in 2023.

The assistance by the World Bank is in the form of loan to be paid by the centre and the State Government in the ratio of 90:10.

The Uttarakhand water supply programme for peri-urban areas will help the state increase water supply coverage as well as ensure sustainable water supply service delivery in peri-urban areas. It will also develop and implement a service-oriented and efficient water supply policy for peri-urban areas, strengthen the current monitoring and evaluation systems, and provide dedicated incentives for preparation and adoption of water supply 'master-plans' in peri-urban areas.

As part of the programme, 35 per-urban areas, which fall in Dehradun, Haridwar, Tehri, Pauri, Nainital, Udham Singh Nagar and Almora districts, will be covered.

The programme will focus on increasing coverage, quality and reliability of water supply services in all peri-urban areas of the state.

Services would be provided through piped network and metered service connections with a focus on improving the operation and management (O&M) of it. Some of the efforts at improving services under the programme will include ensuring a minimum 16-hour water supply, which meets the Central Government's water quality standards, supplied at a minimum pressure of 12m, for no less than 300 days in a year; 100 per cent customer metering and volumetric tariffs; and sustainable water supply systems which recover O&M costs through user charges with transparent subsidies, if any.

Joint Secretary in Department of Economic Affairs, Union Finance Ministry Sameer Kumar Khare said that over 700,000 people residing in peri-urban areas of the state are expected to benefit from the program.

With increasing urbanization, the demarcation between rural and urban is slowly diminishing. The rise of peri-urban areas in Uttarakhand presents many challenges to development. Through this project, the peri-urban population in the state, especially the women will have easy access to regular water supply services, thus freeing- up their time for other more socially and economically productive activities, he added.

The programme is now a priority for the State Government as it moves towards achieving its goal of universal water supply coverage in urban areas by 2030 and in rural areas by 2022, said World Bank's Lead Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist and Task Team Leader for the programme Smita Misra.

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