Puri has become the first Indian city to get clean drinking water throughout the day, allowing residents to drink from tap without the need of further filtration, something unheard of in any other place in the country.
The chief minister of the coastal state of Odisha inaugurated the mission called “sujal,” which means clean water, announcing on Monday that Puri will be the first Indian city to get the facility of drinking water from the tap within nine months.
“Puri has now joined the elite group of international cities like London, New York and Singapore in supplying quality potable water from municipal taps throughout the day,” a statement released by the chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s office said.
“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of not only Puri, but entire Odisha. From now on, all the families living in Puri Dham of Mahaprabhu will have access to clean drinking water from tap 24 hours,” Mr Patnaik said while addressing the media. “Under the Sujal scheme, one can drink water directly from the tap. Storage or filter is not required.”
Puri has over 250,000 residents who will benefit from the move, the chief minister added. The city also attracts 20 million tourists every year, who come to visit the famous Jagannath temple, one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Hindus.
Along with the “sujal” facility, the government has also announced that drinking water fountains will be installed at 400 locations, which will minimise plastic waste produced in the city every day.
“Good drinking water has a strong link with health, living standards and the economy. Therefore, I urge people not to waste or pollute the water,” Mr Pattnaik said, adding that his government has doubled the water budget in five years.
However, opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that holds power in the federal government, has termed the move an “election gimmick.” The BJP alleged that 69 per cent of households in the state still do not have access to piped drinking water from last two decades under the Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) government.
According to Unicef, less than 50 per cent of the population in India has access to safely managed drinking water, and excess fluoride may be affecting tens of millions of people across 19 states.
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