In a country where only one in every five households has access to piped water connection (National Sample Survey Office data), Odisha’s holy city Puri has become the first Indian city to get round-the-clock piped drinking water, media reports said.
The religious hub, famous for Lord Jagannath and golden Sea Beach, attracts two crore tourists every year. Apart from a permanent population of about 3 lakh, the floating population of Puri always remains about 1.5 lakh daily and more on festive occasions.
Reports said the state government is working on rolling out safe drinking tap water supplies in 16 more towns including Cuttack, Rourkela and Berhampur, benefitting around a 4 million urban population.
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“The state government plans to cover all urban areas of Odisha by March 2022, making it the state first to do so in India. Supplying drink-from-tap quality water to every home, similar to developed nations like the US, UK, Japan, Singapore,” the state government said in a statement.
“It includes 24/7 helpline centre with IVRS for grievance redress, the inauguration of mobile water testing laboratory and quick response team for rapid redress of water supply complaints,” the statement added.
The Odisha state government’s scheme comes in the backdrop of 41.14% rural households provided with tap water connection since the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), launched in 2019 by the Union government.
“Puri now joins the international league of cities providing safe & pure water directly drinkable from taps. Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday dedicated the ‘Sujal-Drink From Tap Mission’ to the residents of Puri town to provide clean drinking water to the local residents,” it said.
While the ₹3.6 trillion JJM scheme aims to ensure assured tap water supply or ‘Har Ghar Jal’ to all rural households by 2024, several states have presented their commitment to provide tap water connections to all rural households before 2024.
“After achieving universal coverage of piped drinking water supply in urban areas, the Govt. of Odisha moved to the next level in public satisfaction with the Drink From Tap Mission. This mission was launched by hon’ble chief minister in October 2020 to provide drink-from-tap quality, 24×7 piped water supply to every household. Water received from household taps can be directly used for drinking and cooking without further filtering or boiling,” the statement said.
The issue of water supply got prominence in the Union budget presented in February again, wherein an outlay of ₹2.87 trillion was announced for the launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission Urban. The aim is to supply water to 4,378 urban local bodies with 2.68 crore tap connections.
“The Sujal Mission had been launched to ensure quality tapped drinking water for more than 1.5 million people in more than 15 urban areas,” the Odisha state government statement added.
For the record, the Puri temple administration employs 6,000 men to perform the rituals. The temple also provides economic sustenance to 20,000 people.
The NSSO data shows that groundwater is the most reliable source of drinking water for nearly 43 per cent of the rural population in the country.
It said around 58.3 per cent of households still rely on hand pumps, tube wells, public taps, protected or unprotected wells, and private or public taps.