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General For Three Ropar Villages, He Is The Water ‘Messiah'


Apr 3, 2005
Railon Khurd (Ropar), March 2

Riding on his cycle with determination, 85-year-old ex-serviceman Balbir Singh brought 24 hours drinking water supply to three villages of Paprala, Railob Khurd and Rasulpur.

It’s Balbir’s determination that has brought a World Bank-assisted project right on the doorstep of 350 households in these villages, all of which now enjoy the uninterrupted treated water supply. “It was in 2006, when I got water samples of the village tested. It revealed that water was unfit for human consumption. Consequently, I raised the issue with government departments, but no one responded,” said Balbir, who had retired from the Army 45 years ago.

Thereafter, Balbir came to know about the project and started convincing villagers to contribute 10 per cent of the funds. “It was necessary to tell villagers that the water they were using was unfit and just 10 per cent contribution can lead to wonders,” Balbir added. The task was an uphill with most of villagers refusing to part with Rs 1,500 per family. Balbir decided to collect money in three instalments and the trick succeeded.

General secretary and treasurer of the Gram Panchayat Water Supply Committee (GPWSC), Balbir sought loan from a gurdwara of village to meet with Rs 1.2 lakh amount the committee was falling short of. Laying water pipes and raising water tank alone did not serve any purpose. “Villagers started complaining that over head water tanks in houses were not getting filled. We realised that this was due to lot of water going waste,” he said.

Since people paid just Rs 70 per month, they did not care for it. Consequently, it was decided that meters be installed to check water wastage. In association with the district programme director-cum-superintending engineer, Punjab Water Supply and Sanitation Department, NK Dhir, said the meters were installed at all 350 households saving large quantity of water. “Now, villagers are being charged Rs 3 per unit with each unit comprising 1,000 litres. We just want that people should save water and realise its value,” Dhir said. He said Balbir had been nominated for a state-level award for his services, which would be conferred upon him during the Independence Day celebrations.


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