New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman outlined an allocation of Rs 30,478 crore for the Jal Shakti Ministry in Union Budget 2020-21.
The allocation marks an increase of 7.84 per cent over the sum of Rs 28,261 crore set aside in the 2019-20 budget, the first for the ministry that was formed last May by integrating two union ministries — water resources and drinking water & sanitation.
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The increase is in line with the Modi government’s growing thrust on the water sector, which includes a scheme to take piped drinking water to 18 crore rural households by 2024.
The allocation for the overall Jal Jeevan Mission, which seeks to ensure water security across the country, is Rs 11,500 crore, up from Rs 10,000 crore in 2019-20.
The ‘Har Ghar Nal Se Jal’ scheme, to provide a functional tap connection to all households by 2024, is part of the Jal Jeevan Mission.
In her budget speech, Nirmala Sitharaman reiterated PM Narendra Modi’s promise from Independence Day 2019, that the government had earmarked Rs 3.6 lakh crore for the Jal Jeevan Mission for five years. Of this, 50 per cent will be the central government’s share while states will bear the remaining 50 per cent.
‘Har Ghar Nal Se Jal’ was one of the first schemes announced by the Modi government in its second term. It is an upgraded version of the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), which was launched in 2009.
The NRDWP aimed at providing drinking water supply in rural areas by 2030 at an estimated cost of Rs 6 lakh crore.
Namami Gange, another flagship scheme of the Modi government aimed at cleaning up the Ganga, has been allocated Rs 800 crore, up from Rs 700 crore in 2019-20. The outlay for 2019-20 came down by half to Rs 353 crore in the revised estimates because the total allocation could not be spent.
Tapping afforestation funds
For ‘Nal se Jal’, Sitharaman had said in last year’s budget speech, the government will also explore the possibility of using additional funds available under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).
Currently, CAMPA has Rs 54,000 crore. The funds are paid by user agencies for diverting forest land and were meant to be used for afforestation, improving the forest ecosystem and wildlife protection, among others. However, the bulk of the money is lying unutilised.