Punjab government will provide water connections and toilets to every rural household in the next six years, with the World Bank sanctioning a loan of Rs 1,540 crore for water and sanitation facilities in the state.
The World Bank recently approved a Rs 1,540 crore loan for the ‘Punjab Rural Water and Sanitation Sector Improvement Project’ to help the state improve its water and sanitation services and also reduce open defecation in rural Punjab, an official release said.
The project, costing the state government Rs 2,200 crore, would include water supply for minimum 10 hours daily, a toilet for households that lack such the facility and sewerage systems in over 315 villages.
Over 6,25,000 households in the state still dp not have toilets, it said.
The sanitation component would provide subsidy to every toilet-less household to construct a toilet. It would also provide information, education, and communication (IEC) to trigger the behavioural change necessary to achieve Open Defecation Free status at the village level.
The project also includes safe supply of surface water to over 121 villages that were drinking water contaminated with uranium and other heavy metals that lead to serious health issues like cancer. Roughly 29 percent of water supply schemes in the state face water quality issues, the release said.
"As per the World Bank data, over four million women in Punjab would benefit from this project as they would have access to better quality water supply and sanitation facilities. The project would also reduce the time spent by women in collecting water, which they could now optimally utilise in other productive ways," it said.
Despite the high coverage of water (95 percent) and sanitation (71.0 percent) in Punjab, the rural water and sanitation sector still continues to face major challenges.
This project is expected to directly benefit an estimated 8.47 million rural people in Punjab, including over four million female beneficiaries and 2.44 million beneficiaries belonging to the Scheduled Castes, the release said.
After the sanction of Rs 1,540 crore loan by the World Bank, the state government would invest Rs 660 crore in the Rs 2,200 crore project.