The Punjab government on Wednesday approved a World Bank-aided canal-based water supply projects worth over Rs 2,000 crore for the cities of Amritsar and Ludhiana.
The approval for the two projects costing a total of USD 285.71 million, amounting to over Rs 2,130 crore, was given in a Cabinet meeting held through video conference and chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, an official statement said.
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) would finance USD 200 million and the Punjab government USD 85.71 million, as per the proposal mooted by the Local Government department for the adoption of the Resettlement Policy Framework (RPF) under the Punjab Municipal Services Improvement Project.
The project would have four components including the strengthening of the urban and water supply service management for USD 11.61 million and improving the water supply infrastructure for USD 240.38 million.
The Punjab government had requested the World Bank in June 2018 through the central government's Department of Economic Affairs to support Punjab for implementing the round-the-clock, canal-based water supply projects in Amritsar and Ludhiana.
With technical assistance from the World Bank, the pre-feasibility reports were prepared for both the cities in 2015 and updated in 2019.
The projects are aimed at migrating from the rapidly depleting and contaminated decentralized groundwater sources to a centrally-treated surface water source, the release said.
The project would invest in bulk water infrastructure, establish new institutional models for water supply and sanitation (WSS) service delivery and also strengthen the financial sustainability and customer orientation.
Additionally, the project would extend flexible just-in-time resources and capacity support to the Punjab government and municipal councils across the state to tackle some of the critical challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially strengthening the city-level response and focusing on frontline service providers, it said.
A total of 90 acres land is required for the construction of Water Treatment Plants (WTPs) along with collection tanks for treated water and pumping stations close to the canals in Amritsar and Ludhiana. While Amritsar requires 40 acres of land, Ludhiana needs 50 acres.
For Amritsar project, the land has already been acquired in village Vallah along the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) by the Land Acquisition Collector at a negotiated cost of Rs 36.40 crore.
In Ludhiana, the land has been identified near village Rampur and the acquisition through negotiation is in progress.
The Punjab Cabinet, meanwhile, also gave its nod for the direct recruitment of 305 jail warders by the Punjab Police Recruitment Board by taking these posts out of the purview of the Subordinate Services Selection Board.
This decision would be instrumental in improving prison management by providing adequate manpower in jails. The entire process of recruitment would be completed within four months, the government statement said.
Punjab's jails currently have more than 24,000 inmates, but there is a shortage of the requisite staff for supervising them.
The paucity of staff is being felt more acutely since the Nabha jailbreak on November 27, 2016, and the jail security needs to be increased to check the recurrence of such incidents, the Cabinet felt.
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