New Delhi: The NDA government has promised access to safe drinking water on priority basis, for which even two erstwhile ministries of water resources and drinking water & sanitation have been merged into a single Jal Shakti Ministry. Interestingly though, the budgetary allocation for both the former departments has dipped in the Union Budget for 2019-20.
The allocation for department of water resources and Ganga rejuvenation for 2019-20 is Rs 8,245 crore, which was Rs 8,860 crore in 2018-19.
Similarly, the budgetary allocation for department of drinking water and sanitation too has fallen for 2019-20 and stood at Rs 20,016 crore, compared to the corresponding period of 2018-19 when it was Rs 22,356 crore.
Even the key focus area of the NDA government, the National Rural Drinking Water Mission has witnessed only a marginal increase in allocation. In 2018-19, the budgetary allocation for the mission was Rs 7,000 crore, while for 2019-20 it has risen to Rs 10,000 crore.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while delivering her maiden budget speech in Lok Sabha on Friday, said that besides using funds available under various schemes, the government will also explore possibility of using additional funds available under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) for Jal Shakti Abhiyan. Interestingly, regarding the usage of CAMPA funds, the Supreme Court earlier this year had ordered the Centre to transfer these to a newly formed authority for enhancing green cover across the country.
Speaking on the issue of water, the finance minister said that access to drinking water is a priority.
“The new ministry (Jal Shakti) will look at the management of our water resources and water supply in an integrated and holistic manner, and will work with states to ensure Har Ghar Jal (piped water supply) to all rural households by 2024 under the Jal Jeevan Mission,” Ms Nirmala Sitharaman said in her speech.
This Mission, under the department of drinking water and sanitation, will focus on integrated demand and supply side management of water at the local level, including creation of local infrastructure for source sustainability like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household wastewater for reuse in agriculture.
The Jal Jeevan Mission will converge with other Central and state government schemes to achieve its objectives of sustainable water supply management across the country.
The government has identified 1,592 blocks in the country which are critical and over exploited, spread across 256 district for the Jal Shakti Abhiyan....