Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Mar 20, 2002

Port Info

Group Sites

Industry & Economy - Interview

Drinking water for all in five years: T.M. Jacob

G.K. Nair

`The State Budget was prepared by about 70 officials during the month-long strike by Government employees, as against 700 who used to do this job in the past. This clearly indicates the working pattern.'

KOCHI, March 19

THE Kerala Government is to make available drinking water to all in the State by the year 2007 and to achieve this objective, various schemes are in the pipeline.

The State Irrigation and Water Supply Minister, Mr T.M. Jacob, said that as a first step towards this direction, over 300 ongoing schemes in different stages execution would be completed one-by-one in the coming months.

Besides, various schemes such as the one to augment water supply to three cities - Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode - have already been initiated. The project is proposed to be implemented for the cities at an estimated cost of Rs 300 to Rs 400 crore under BOT scheme.

The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), which had called global tenders, shortlisted four companies and from them two - Mahindra and Mahindra and a Malaysian company - have been selected, he said.

The Kerala State Infrastructural development Corporation (Kinfra) has been asked to make a project report to be given to these companies, asking them to submit their financial bids, Mr Jacob said. It is expected to take two years for completion of the project once the work is awarded.

With the completion of this project, Thiruvananthapuram would get drinking water throughout the day while Kochi and Kozhikode eight hours a day.

A World Bank-assisted scheme is being implemented under its rural water supply scheme in the districts of Thrissur, Palakkad, Malapuram and Kozhikode. However, the Government is planning to extend this scheme to the urban areas and for it, preliminary discussions are over with the World Bank authorities, the Minister said.

He said that the Kerala Water Authority would be implementing the Chovara water supply scheme at an estimated cost of Rs 50 crore, for which tender formalities were over. Another scheme for East Kochi with UK Government assistance is also under way.

The idea is to stabilise water supply in the State and all measures are being taken to achieve this objective, the Minister said.

The Government has made a proposal to hand over 1,050 schemes currently held by KWA to the Panchayats. But only 20 Panchayats out of over 1,000 responded positively. "The people want everything to be done by the Government,'' Mr Jacob said.

Meanwhile, KWA presented a proposal to auction these schemes and to give to the highest bidder. However, the Government did not favour this suggestion, he said.

In such a scenario, the Government is bound to seek assistance from other sources such as financial institutions and other agencies and foreign governments, he pointed out.

The return on the investment made in this sector is much less when compared with the money invested. To raise the revenue, it is not necessary to increase the tariff rates. There was a proposal to raise the charges which "I have rejected.''

According to Mr Jacob, if meter-reading is done properly and charges collected on time, the revenue would definitely go up. In fact, there is no permanent mechanism for meter-reading and collection of charges.

As a result, even the local bodies have to pay around Rs 100 crore to the Water Authority, he said. Majority of the water connections is to households followed by commercial consumers.

Proper maintenance of the existing network has to be done promptly. That is not being done regularly for want of funds, Mr Jacob admitted. The entire operation needs to be revamped and regulated, he said.

Steps are being taken to reduce the establishment cost so that the KWA could be run on a `no profit no loss' basis, he added. The department is overstaffed. "There should not be more permanent staff. Much of the operations can be done with temporary hands. The time has come that the work culture has to change here. More wages and less output is the strategy prevailing here.

"The State Budget was prepared by about 70 officials during the month-long strike by Government employees as against 700 who used to do this job in the past,'' Mr Jacob pointed out. This clearly indicates the working pattern, he added.

From April 1, bi-monthly meter-reading would be introduced throughout the State. On an experimental basis, it was done in selected areas in three cities, which has proved a success, Mr Jacob said. Under this programme the consumers could pay the bills through banks.

"Compared to the last fiscal, a good collection is expected during the current financial year,'' Mr Jacob, who would be celebrating his silver jubilee as MLA in April, said.

Send this article to Friends by E-Mail

Stories in this Section
Rs 2,770-cr surplus in UP Budget

Tariff revision must for profitability, says CESC
US economy & markets: Downside risk remains
Delhi Plan outlay fixed at Rs 4,700 cr
CII seeks steps to speed up reforms
UN food agencies urge more funds to end hunger
Save Nilgiris Campaign to organise summer treks
Roll back fert price hike: Ajit
IMA warning
Diesel consumption takes a dip in Feb
Govt likely to convert part of KPTCL loans into equity
KSEB still in dire straits
APTransco averts grid collapse
Tax on foreign cos to be lowered gradually
Austrian fibre maker upbeat on `modal'
Coimbatore SSIs chary of investments?
ICICI chair at IIM-B
Promoting Kannada in border areas
Jewellers fight shy of `Hallmarking' ornaments
NAC inks pact with CIDB
AP Govt embarks on major housing programme
Asian business gets a powerful voice
Round-table on Indo-Arab ties
Bangalore to host bio-tech meet
OECD study on China, an eye-opener for India
Nabard sanctioning at fast clip
Designs to make people work better
Salary advance to Kerala Govt staff
Drinking water for all in five years: T.M. Jacob
ITCOT meet on call centre business
Thiruvananthapuram Engagements
Bangalore Engagements
More sops for domestic area suppliers likely
Gujarat quake-hit areas -- Duty waiver extended for housing inputs
Parliamentary panel in last leg of stock scam probe

The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | Home |

Copyright 2002, The Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu Business Line