The Planning Commission is set to place a project before the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday, to provide sources of adequate safe drinking water for rural people by 2025.
The project, proposed by the Local Government Division, will have an estimated cost of Tk8850.74 crore.
Following Ecnec approval, the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) will implement the project from January this year to June 2025, with full government funding.
DPHE sources said that the project aims to introduce more than six lakh installations, such as tube-wells and water-tanks, as sources of safe drinking water in rural areas.
According to the Development Project Proposal (DPP), there is only one source of drinking water for every 87 people in Bangladesh. However, the National Policy for Safe Water Supply and Sanitation recommends one source of potable water for every 50 people.
On average, every 105 people are using one source of drinking water in rural regions of the country, and the project aims to decrease the number to 55.
Sources from the division pointed out that the total number of people living in rural areas across the country will reach 13.57 crore by 2025, and 24.68 lakh drinking water sources will be required within that year.
At present, a total of 16.39 lakh water sources are available to these people, and an additional 3.21 lakh will be installed under ongoing projects.
Despite a net demand of 5.08 lakh sources of water, the proposed Local Government Division project will install more than six lakh sources to make up for around one lakh contaminated tube-wells.
Meanwhile, DPHE sources said that the Sector Development Plan for Water has a target of supplying drinking water to 5-10 percent of the rural areas through pipelines by 2025.
In accordance with the plan, the proposed project aims to establish a water pipeline infrastructure in 491 rural areas.
The Planning Commission said that the project is listed in the Annual Development Programme (APD) for this fiscal year without approval and allocation. The DPHE Ground Water Circle recently conducted a feasibility study for the project titled "Feasibility Study on Village Water Supply in Bangladesh."
As per the DPP, around 87 percent people in Bangladesh have access to safe drinking water. Supplying it is a challenging job because of the lack of potable water in some sources (ground and surface), and the presence of arsenic and other harmful chemicals in others.
Moreover, the task is going to be difficult due to the rising salinity in coastal areas and the dropping of the water level during the dry season in several regions of the country.
A source from the Planning Commission said that the Local Government Division has proposed construction of 100 upazila offices under the project, but the Project Evaluation Committee (PEC) recommended the construction or renovation of only 12 dilapidated offices.
In several areas, the Local Government Support Project (LGSP), projects for Haor regions, Arsenic Risk Mitigation project are currently being implemented. But the PEC suggested that the division should exclude these areas from the proposed project.
The Local Government Division also reduced the estimated cost of training, supply and services, and emergency crisis management for disasters, as per the PEC's recommendation.
Shamima Nargis, a member of the Physical Infrastructure Division of the Planning Commission, said, "It will be possible to supply safe water in every rural area of the country. The project will benefit public health.
"This is why the Planning Commission recommended that Ecnec approve the project."