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Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) was created as an independent full-fledged department in 1987. Earlier Health & Family Welfare Department of the State Government had a Public Health Engineering Wing. As per Rules of Business of the State Government, Public Health Engineering Department controls the Water Supply & Sanitation Budget of the State Government and undertakes programmes of implementation of water supply services mainly through Public Health Engineering Directorate under its administrative control. Therefore, main activities of PHED are now related to Rural Water Supply and Urban Water Supply in few limited areas of the State outside Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA). PHED also controls works of Hill Area Development so far as provision for water supply is concerned.

Supply of safe drinking water in rural areas is made primarily through the State Plan resources and through Central Assistance under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP). The National Rural Drinking Water Programme, launched by Govt. of India, aims at ensuring permanent drinking water security in all the rural habitations of the State. In abidance to the national vision, the State has also adopted a “Vision – 2020 Plan” which envisages permanent drinking water security @70 lpcd (litres per capita per day) in rural West Bengal. Further to ensure drinking water security, emphasis has been laid on piped water supply schemes with an objective to complete shift from hand pump tube-wells to piped water supply schemes in a phased manner, with provision for house to house connection.

The main function of PHE Department within the jurisdiction of Rural Local Bodies is Supply of safe drinking water based on Ground Water / Surface Water / Sub – Surface Water / Based on other sources. Apart from rural water supply, PHE Department is also engaged in Urban Water Supply in few Municipalities, Mitigating Water Quality Related Issues, Monitoring & Surveillance of Water Quality (Chemical and Bacteriological), Creation of Sustainability Structures (Recharge of GW aquifer), Water Supply to Schools and Anganwadis, Creation of Spot Sources (Ordinary TW and Rig Bored TW), Research & Development Works in Water supply sector, Disaster management in flood, drought, earthquake etc.

The department also has a Water and Sanitation Support Organization (WSSO) as per National Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) guideline which Conducts training, organizes training related activities, shares the key concept of NRDWP guidelines with all stake holders and promotes National Rural Drinking Water Supply programme at the state level. WSSO conducts Awareness Generation through IEC, Capacity Building, Human resource Development, Training of PRI members on various water supply related issues.