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Punjab approves US$286 million canal water supply project for the cities of Amritsar, Ludhiana

  • Punjab approves US$286 million canal water supply project for the cities of Amritsar, Ludhiana
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The government of Punjab, a state in northern India, approved on Wednesday a World Bank-supported US$ 285.71 million project for canal-based water supply for the cities of Amritsar and Ludhiana, reports The Tribune, a north Indian media.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is to finance $200 million (70 per cent of the total project) while the Punjab government is to finance the remaining 30 per cent equivalent to $85.71 million, as per the proposal mooted by the local government department for the adoption of Resettlement Policy Framework (RPF) under Punjab Municipal Services Improvement Project, an official Punjab Cabinet statement said.

The whole engagement, a spokesperson said, would be under the scheme of the State Partnership between the Punjab Government and the World Bank.

Through the Government of India’s Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), the government of Punjab had, in June 2018, petitioned the World Bank to back the northern state to implement a 24X7 canal-based water supply projects in Amritsar and Ludhiana.

The plan is made up of four parts including enhancing urban and water supply service management with a total investment of US$ 11.61 million, improving water supply infrastructure for a total cost of US$ 240.38 million, besides Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation & Resettlement involving the cost of US$ 15.62 million, COVID-19 crisis response for US$ 10 million and project management at US$ 7.6 million, in addition to Front End Fee of US$ 0.5 million.

The World Bank’s Technical Assistance (TA) drafted the pre-feasibility reports, which highlighted the need to migrate from rapidly depleting and contaminated decentralized groundwater sources to a centralized treated surface water source.

The Resettlement Policy Framework (RPF) includes measures and actions to establish adequate accountability and transparency in the process of assessing land-related impacts, said a spokesperson from the Chief Minister’s Office.

The project also sets out a process for the acquisition of land and for the compensation of those unfavourably impacted due to replacement cost as described in the ‘Land Acquisition, Restrictions on Land Use and Involuntary Resettlement (ESS5)’ guidance of the World Bank. Those citizens impacted by the project will have their livelihoods and standards of living to pre-project levels.

According to World Bank’s ESS5, involuntary resettlement instruments, i.e. the compensation, will be based on the replacement cost.

The project will also include skill development and training for the most vulnerable groups. As well as the necessary tools to strengthen city-level response to tackle some of the difficult challenges arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

According to The Tribune, the ambitious plan would invest in bulk water infrastructure, establish new institutional models for Water Supply & Sanitation (WSS) service delivery, and also strengthen financial sustainability and customer orientation in WSS delivery.

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