The dream of nearly 2.5 lakh people of piped water at home has been drying up bit by bit since 2008, which was the deadline of the Rs 28-crore Moharda project, meant to cater to Birsanagar, Baridih, Bagunnagar and Bagunhatu on Jamshedpur's eastern fringes.
The project's foundation stone was laid by chief minister Arjun Munda and then state urban development minister Raghubar Das in September 2006. It was scheduled to be complete in 2008.
The water project had these elements of construction ' a weir, seven towers, a filtration plant and an intake well. It was to supply 5.5 million litre gallons per day.
The weir ' a barrier smaller than a dam across Subernarekha designed to collect water ' was supposed to be ready years ago. As things stand now, the weir is only 60 per cent complete.
What is worse is that it has flouted technical specifications and is shorter than it should have been.
The technical specification laid out by the drinking water and sanitation department (DWandSD) stated the weir should be at least 2ft above the intake well's inlet hole to enable collected water to slide downwards. In the Moharda water project, both have the same height, which means that only when there are huge amounts of water, can it hope to force its way into the intake well.
Forget drawing water during summer or a weak monsoon, when the river is shallow.
The discrepancy has been noticed and voiced. "The government is doing the project for the sake of completing it. How can it ignore technical glitches?" JVM central secretary Abhay Singh asked.
The DWandSD has told the irrigation department, responsible for the construction of the weir, of this anomaly but no action has been taken to rectify the defect. DWandSD executive engineer Bipin Bihari Sinha said they were assured by the irrigation department of rectification "if there is any problem in water supply".
But, there is no "if" about the problem. Water flows downwards. If both weir and well are on the same level, water can't flow down easily.
Raghubar Das, who is now Jamshedpur East MLA, and was associated with the project from the start, expressed dissatisfaction over both the delay and the defect.
"The matter has been discussed with state water resource minister Sudesh Mahto. The contractor who constructed the weir has been blacklisted. The government has assured us that the tender will be reissued," he said.
On Wednesday, he started a community water tap system aided by Jamshedpur Notified Area Committee.
But as he and JNAC special officer R.N. Dwivedi know, this is a stopgap solution. For the record, community water taps were put in action last July on a trial basis when Subernarekha was swollen, but when the river receded, supply was discontinued.
Why is shoddy execution of projects a habit with the state?