Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hogenakkal Water Supply and Fluoride Mitigation Project

            A drinking water supply project, conceived nearly 50 years ago for water-starved and fluoride-hit people of Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts in north-western belt, became a reality when Chief Minister Jayalalithaa formally commissions through video-conferencing (May 29, 2013). The project, now called “Hogenakkal Water Supply and Fluorosis Mitigation Project”, was originally mooted when K. Kamaraj was Chief Minister in the 1960s. Over the years, it witnessed various changes and eventually, when the DMK was in power, the project took off.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) decided to fund the 80 per cent of the project cost, which is around Rs. 1,928 crore. A senior official of the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board, the executing agency, says that in terms of cost, this is the biggest taken up by the Board. But, the significance of the project is not just about the cost. It is going to serve people in a region, which is among less developed in many respects. As per an estimate of the funding agency, the districts of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri had, as of 2006, about 1.1 million people living below poverty line. According to 12th Five Year Plan document of the State Planning Commission, human development indices of the Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts are 0.748 and 0.707 against the State’s overall figure of 0.765.
Known for chronic water shortage, the two districts receive less rainfall compared to many other parts of the State. Their average annual rainfall is 815 mm whereas the State’s annual rainfall is 977 mm. But, what affects them more is the presence of fluoride, harmful to the human body, in the groundwater. People suffer from dental and skeletal fluorosis. A document of the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department [under whose administrative control comes the TWAD Board] states that among 3.8 lakh school students assessed for dental fluorosis, the intensity of the problem was severe in respect of three per cent of the students while it was moderate in the case of 10 per cent.
Taking into account all these aspects, the authorities have designed the project, which will benefit about 3.3 million spread over three municipalities, 17 town panchayats and 6,755 rural habitations in the two districts. Using Cauvery as the source, the project can take care of the requirements of four million. On completion of the project, all rural habitations will have the prescribed norm of 40 litres per capita per day (LPCD) and the urban local bodies, 135 LPCD, adds the official.

Timeline of the Hogenakkal project:- The Hogenakkal water supply project presents a classic case of cost overrun.

Year
Details
Cost of the Project
1960s
Kamaraj was CM
Rs. 110 cr
1986
MGR – benefit 3 other dts too (Cuddalore, Tiruvannamalai and Vellore) but now the project covers only Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri dts. MGR named the project as “Kamaraj Plan Project”
1994
Jayalalithaa - CM
Rs. 450 cr
1996
Karunanidhi – CM (1998 Pokhran nuclear blasts – economic sanctions imposed on India)
Rs. 600 cr
2005
Jayalalithaa - CM
Rs. 1005 cr
2010
Karunanidhi - CM
Rs. 1928.8 cr
2013
Jayalalithaa - CM
Official commission of the project


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