Dehradun, Oct 17 (IANS) The World Bank has given a $120 million credit grant to the hill state of Uttaranchal to help improve rural water supply and sanitation services.
'The project, which is a first of its kind in Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) globally, will support the state and sector-wide common policies and institutional arrangements for improving service delivery,' said an official press release.
Representatives of the Uttaranchal government, the central government and World Bank South Asian acting Regional Vice-President Rachid Benmessaoud signed the agreements on Monday.
The Uttaranchal Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project aims to upgrade areas with no or partial coverage of water supply to full coverage, benefiting at least 1.2 million people, or 20 percent of the rural population. The project will also improve sanitation in about 30 percent of rural communities.
Uttaranchal has a population of 8.48 million, of which 75 percent live in the rural areas. Only half the state is estimated to be fully covered with functioning water supply schemes.
The state also faces severe water shortage. Many villagers are forced to spend several hours collecting water for domestic use.
This project will generate sustainable access to water and sanitation services, which in turn will help reduce water-borne diseases in underserved rural areas, the release said.
The Uttaranchal government has prioritised rural water supply and sanitation as a key area of its development agenda in its 10th Plan (2003 -07). It envisages universal coverage of safe and potable water and sanitation by 2012.
The credit from the International Development Association, the World Bank's concessionary lending arm, carries a 0.75 service fee, a 10-year grace period, and a maturity of 35 years, the statement said.