Guwahati, May 4: The early commissioning of Guwahati’s first 24×7 drinking water supply scheme has become doubtful owing to the uncertain political climate.
Highly placed sources told The Telegraph that though 95 per cent work of the South Guwahati West Water Supply Project has been completed, execution of the remaining work has now become tardy owing to prevailing uncertain political climate in the state after the Assembly polls last month.
“Funds crunch as well as post-election inertia in Dispur – when ministers and bureaucrats prefer to wait and see who forms the government – have put the brakes on the commissioning of the scheme. The Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority, which is implementing the project, has not yet received Rs 80 crore to complete and commission it,” a source said.
Sources said another important reason for the Congress government not to show a keen interest in completing and commissioning the project might be the party’s remote chance of winning the Gauhati West and Jalukbari seats. Residents of both these Assembly constituencies will be the beneficiaries of the water supply scheme.
“So the Congress government is preferring to wait till May 19, the day of counting for the polls. Moreover, the state government is also offended at the BJP-led NDA government’s refusal to release its share of Rs 25 crore under JNNURM, which has been scrapped, to complete and commission the project,” the source said.
The project, which will cover areas in the western part of the city from Bharalumukh to LGBI Airport, was initially scheduled to be completed in 2011. It has already missed a couple of revised deadlines, the last ones being in April and December 2015.
The GMDA had set a target to commission and hand over the project to Guwahati Jal Board before the onset of monsoon in June.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi had laid foundation of the project with much fanfare in the presence of then Guwahati development department minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (now a BJP leader) on April 7, 2010.
An official of Gammon India Ltd told this correspondent that if the state government had released the rest of the amount (Rs 80 crore) last month, the firm could have completed the project and made it ready for commissioning in June. Gammon India, which is executing the project, has not been able to purchase the equipment to give finishing touches to the project owing to non-receipt of Rs 80 crore. He said going by the present status of the project, the firm is not in a position to cite the probable date when the project would be ready for commissioning.
GMDA chairman Dhiren Barua, who has been consistently pursuing Dispur for commissioning of the project at the earliest, said he was sad about the latest development. Barua, an octogenarian who founded Save Guwahati Build Guwahati, an NGO, said political will would be the key in commissioning the project at the earliest. “At this stage of my life, my only dream is to see Guwahatians getting drinking water round the clock. I have seen over the years how the residents suffer due to the inadequate water supply,” Barua said.