Barmer: A major drinking water project which would benefit the parched area of Rajasthan by linking it with the Indira Gandhi main canal was inaugurated by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Speaking on the occasion, Gandhi said the project would help solve "the biggest problem of this area".
Through the Barmer Drinking Water project, the sweet water of Indira Gandhi Canal has reached Barmer. I think this in itself is historic."
"I know scarcity of water troubles everyone and the maximum burden is lifted by my sisters, the women. They have to walk miles to get water for their families. I am very happy that my sisters will not have to face this problem anymore," she said.
Gandhi said the Congress government in the state had in 2002 started working in the direction of a drinking water project in the area but alleged the subsequent BJP government did not pay much attention to it.
"Then, you again gave our party a chance to govern and we fasttracked the project and the result is seen today," she said.
"The Chief Minister has told me that to purify this water, latest techniques have been used and storage techniques have been used to ensure that there is no shortage," Gandhi said.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the water of Indira Gandhi main canal has reached the city of Barmer and adjoining areas.
He said Sonia Gandhi had come as Bhagirathi- mythical name for Ganges- to the Barmer area.
Gehlot also raised the demand for setting up of an oil refinery in the area.
As per Rajasthan government officials, under the first phase of Barmer Lift Drinking Water Project, clean drinking water will be provided to more than six lakh people of Barmer and Jaisalmer districts.
"Over 196km main pipeline has been laid from Mohangarh village to Barmer city from Indira Gandhi Main Canal. The cost of the project is Rs 688.65 crores, which has already been spent on the project for its completion," Rajasthan government said in a statement.
"The estimated population of the area in 2036 will be 15.64 lakh and to cater to them 38,450 lakh litre capacity ponds have been constructed in and around the area with a view to providing drinking water," the statement added.
As per officials, filter plant of 1,720 lakh liter capacity has also been constructed and a pipeline laid up to the pond constructed from Mohangarh in Jaisalmer to Barmer.
Pumps have been installed in Mohangarh and nearby Bhagu village for 200 meter lift of water to Barmer, officials said.
As per the state government, first phase of the project is mainly for infrastructure development and with its completion, drinking water will be available to Barmer city and 74 villages on the way.
The Air Force Station at Uttarlai and Defense Lab in Jaisalmer, including 38 villages of Barmer tehsil, 27 of Shiv and nine villages of Ramsar tehsil will also get water under this.
In the second phase, more villages would benefit, officials said.
Proposals worth Rs 979.75 crores for the second phase have been sent to the central government for sanction by J.B.I.C. (Japan Bank), Rajsthan government officials said.