To save groundwater, govt bans hand pumps

Grants under MPLAD funds for the purpose stuck I Viplove for review of decision

To save groundwater, govt bans hand pumps

The state government has banned installation of hand pumps across the state.

Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, January 11

The state government has banned installation of hand pumps across the state. Neither the Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) Department, nor any private individual can now install hand pumps even at their private properties without the permission of the Engineer-in-Chief Office in Shimla.

Decision illogical

Water supply schemes of the IPH Department fail at times due to technical reasons. In that case, people can at least get water from hand pumps. The ban is an illogical decision considering the fact that the government had to hire tankers to supply water during the summer in many parts of the state. The government should reconsider it.

— Viplove Thakur, Cong MP

Sources said the decision was taken by the department to save underground water. Earlier, the ban on the exploitation of underground water was limited to just a few zones where the water level was going down alarmingly.

However, as per the notification issued by the state government in November 2018, now the installation of hand pumps has been banned in the state.

The decision has put in a quandary many projects to install hand pumps in rural areas for which MPs have given grants from their MPLAD funds.

Congress’ Rajya Sabha member Viplove Thakur told The Tribune that she had granted around Rs1 crore from her MPLAD funds for the installation of hand pumps in rural areas of Kangra district. “I have asked the IPH Department to either install hand pumps or return the allocated funds so that we can use these for some other purposes,” she said.

Sushil Jasta, Chief Engineer, IPH, Dharamsala, confirmed that the government had banned the installation of hand pumps and tubewells in the state. “The government is implementing the Jal Jivan Mission, which will cover the state and there will be no need to install private hand pumps,” he said.

Viplove Thakur said that she had allocated money for the installation of hand pumps in the Dehra area, most of which falls under the Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary. To install hand pumps, the IPH Department would have to seek permission from the Wildlife Department.

“Many a time, hand pumps come in handy. Water supply schemes of the IPH Department fail at times due to technical reasons. In that case, people can at least get water from hand pumps. The ban is an illogical decision due to the fact that the government had to hire tankers to supply water during the summer in many parts of the state. The government should reconsider the decision,” she added.

BJP MP from Hamirpur Anurag Thakur, too, had given grants from his MPLAD funds for the installation of hand pumps in the arid areas of Dehra and Jaswan Pragpur constituencies of Kangra. However, the funds are now stuck with the IPH Department.

Balbir Singh, a resident of Dehra, said: “People generally draw just about 2,000 to 3,000 litres of water from hand pumps for their personal consumption. It is not going to affect underground water in any way. The government should regulate the commercial exploitation of underground water rather than banning small hand pumps in rural areas”.

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