GUWAHATI, Dec 26 - A Niti Aayog programme for installation of solar-power operated community water treatment plants in arsenic-affected areas of the State has run into rough weather, with the State government allegedly failing to release the funds on time.
The fate of 96 such schemes now hangs in a balance, with the works coming to a standstill. It is also learnt that the schemes were to be completed by December 31 this year, and in the event of any failure, the funds might lapse.
Official sources said schemes to cover 96 habitations at an estimated cost of around Rs 11 crore were approved by the Niti Aayog in February, 2016. The administrative approval for the schemes was given by the State government in November that year and the works were awarded to a joint venture firm through tender a month later. Majority of the schemes, numbering 47, were for Jorhat district.
�These schemes were basically stop-gap arrangements in the highly arsenic-affected 96 habitations till permanent measures were taken to provide safe drinking water. The funds were sanctioned as a grant-in-aid by Niti Aayog. There was no state component involved. Around Rs 12 lakh was to be spent in each scheme,� the sources said.
The firm which bagged the contract is learnt to have completed around 20 schemes and progress in the other schemes is around 60 per cent.
While the fund demand for payment to the contractor against the 20 completed schemes was sent to the government in early November, no disbursement has been made as yet.
�The contractor says once the funds against the completed schemes are received, it would complete the other schemes in about a fortnight�s time. Due to non-release of the funds, work in the other schemes has also come to a standstill. The money was to be paid to the contractor on completion of the schemes,� the sources said.
The joint venture firm had engaged small contractors to construct deep tube wells in the 96 locations where the schemes were to be installed. The tube wells were completed in last March.
�The wells were constructed at a cost of around Rs 1.45 lakh each. The small contractors too are yet to get any payment. Senior officials of the Public Health Engineering department were accosted by the aggrieved small contractors at Jorhat recently,� the sources said, wondering if the Niti Aayog funds meant for the scheme were diverted.