Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved financing package of $245 million to implement project for providing safe, sustainable drinking water service to million people in three districts of West Bengal affected by arsenic, fluoride, and salinity. The project will provide continuous potable water through metered connections to about 390,000 individual households in three districts of North 24 Parganas, Bankura and Purba Medinipur. This project will play pivotal role in reducing burden of disease from arsenic and fluoride while preserving groundwater and enhancing climate resilience.
Through this project, potable water will be provided through bulk water systems, consisting of intakes, water treatment plants and transmission mains that will be connected to grid with existing and new systems in these three districts. The project will use high-technology based smart water management system to efficiently manage services. It will be first of its kind technology to be used for large scale rural water schemes in India.
The total cost of project is $349 million, for which ADB will provide loan of $240 million and grant of $3 million will be provided from Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction financed by Government of Japan. The West Bengal government will provide $106 million in funding. The project is due for completion in June 2024. This project will play important role in capacity building of institutions and stakeholders involved in delivering drinking water services.
High arsenic and fluoride levels in drinking water are serious threat to public health in India. About 85% of water in India’s rural areas comes from groundwater and around 27 million people are at risk from arsenic and fluoride contamination. West Bengal is by far worst affected state in high arsenic and fluoride levels in drinking water in India. Arsenic in drinking water can lead to range of serious health problems including cancer, while high exposure to fluoride can cause dental or skeletal fluorosis and bone diseases.