Himachal’s Largest Rural Water Supply Scheme Faces Vigilance Inquiry

HAMIRPUR: Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has reportedly ordered an high level inquiry into the Bamsan-Mewa water supply scheme. This happens to be the states largest rural water supply scheme that is to meet the drinking water needs of 224 villages.

The project has remained controversial since the outset as its execution was allotted to a local company despite announcements made by the previous chief minister, Vir Bhadra Singh that project would be allotted through global competitive bidding.

However, the scheme was given to a firm having more than six to eight partners hailing from Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Chandigarh with close proximity to state and central congress leaders.

Though the authorities have denied that there never was a proposal to float global tenders for undertaking the project, this correspondent has documents which show that global tenders for the project were put out on the website of the Department of Irrigation-cum-Public health of Himachal Pradesh government. However, those files are now missing from the website.

Highly placed sources told this reporter today that chief minister Dhumal was highly upset with the way, the department had made announcement that the scheme was complete. On inspection of the scheme, in presence of the reporters, the scheme was found to be incomplete and two major water tanks were still under construction.

Prof. Dhumal had made this scheme a prestige issue during the elections, saying that he would order an inquiry into the construction of the scheme, once BJP was voted to power.

It may be mentioned that the original scheme was for Rs 35 crores. However, now it has been scaled up to Rs 75 crores and is the main reason that people suspect large scale bungling in its execution.

The objective of the scheme was to meet the water requirements of Mewa and Bamsan areas where water shortage is not just a summer problem but persists around the year.

During previous BJP regime, this scheme was proposed and it was to be made part of the existing Lagwalti-Bamsan water supply scheme that was constructed during the Janta party rule in 1977. At that time, that scheme was made for the people of 111 villages with the funding of Royal Dutch government to the tune of 1.11 crore rupees. However, with the number of connections rose and more villages were covered that scheme failed to achieve the mission.

During the previous rule of the BJP, several crores rupees were spent for the augmentation of the scheme and to make it available for the people of Mewa area also. However, the BJP lost power in 2003 much before a document was to be signed with the Australian government for the augmentation of the scheme with help of HUDCO.

Highly place government sources told this reporter that a team of the Vigilance department would take control of the entire records pertaining to the scheme in a day or two as the ADGP, Mr. Minhas is to reach Shimla tonight from Dharamshala. Minhas also had discussion with his juniors in Hamirpur today regarding this scheme, sources said.

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