New Delhi: In an effort to provide clean drinking water to rural belts of the country, the Centre has approved a fund of Rs 300 crore to monitor and examine the quality of drinking water being supplied to these areas.

The initiative by Ministry of Rural Development and Water Supply will facilitate rural areas of the states where toxic chemicals are dissolved in groundwater. It is to be noted that there are dangerous chemicals like arsenic, fluoride and iron are dissolved in groundwater of states in Ganga plains.

While announcing the decision in the Cabinet meeting Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said

“Drinking water is being supplied using hand pumps in rural areas of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa, and Chhattisgarh. These hand pumps have become a major source of toxic chemical elements. The new initiative of the Government will help people get rid of toxic water."

Under this plan, the toxic elements can be reduced by using filter on hand pumps but it can be completely eradicated by the supply of drinking through pipeline.

The Minister said that the 3 percent of the Central budget which is around 300 crore would be directly spent on testing and monitoring drinking water quality.

The facility of mobile water testing unit and other testing kits and filters to be used with hand pumps would also be provided. In response to a question, Ramesh said that the Ministry would focus on pipe water supply schemes in the 12th Plan.

Ramesh said that there is a provision of Rs 9,350 crore of budget in regard to the National Rural Drinking Water Programme, out of which 40 percent would be allocated to rural population and 10 percent of the budget would be provided to  rural scheduled castes and tribes.

The other 40 percent budget would be distributed on drinking water supply in deserts, arid, hilly and northeastern areas. The balance 10 percent of the budget will be spent on the states where Gram Panchayats would be given autonomy in drinking water supply.