A woman fetches water from a small tank outside her house in Beed district, Maharashtra| Photo: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg
A woman fetches water from a small tank (Representational image) | Photo: Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: In line with the thrust given to providing piped water supply to rural India, the Narendra Modi government in its first budget in second term has allocated Rs 8,245 crore for the Jal Shakti ministry, which was formed by merging two Union ministries — Water Resources, and Drinking Water and Sanitation.

However, no specific allocation was made for the Modi’s government’s ambitious ‘Har Ghar Jal’ programme, which aimed to provide piped water supply to all rural households by 2024.

Presenting her first budget, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ programme under the Jal Jeevan Mission would merge with other central and state government schemes to achieve its objectives of sustainable water supply management across the country.

“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 this purpose,” Sitharaman said.

Currently, Rs 54,000 crore is lying under CAMPA. The funds are provided by user agencies for diverting forestland for non-forest purpose and used for afforestation, improving the forest ecosystem and wildlife protection, among others. However, a bulk of the money is lying unutilised.


Also read: Water-stressed India could ask its farmers to irrigate less


‘Jal Shakti ministry will work with states to ensure piped water to rural India’

Sitharaman said the Jal Shakti ministry would look at the management of water resources and water supply in an integrated and holistic manner, and work with states to ensure facilitation of piped water supply to all rural households by 2024 under the Jal Jeevan Mission.

“Ensuring India’s water security and providing access to safe drinking water to all Indians is a priority,” the finance minister said.

According to data available with the Jal Shakti ministry, only 18 per cent households in the country, at present, have access to piped water supply. Nearly 400 million households in the country do not have access to piped drinking water, according to the ministry’s data.


Also read: Modi govt 2.0 takes a shot at ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ 2.0


Big focus on water

That the Modi government will give importance to water sector in his second term was evident when it announced the creation of Jal Shakti ministry by integrating the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

Creation of the Jal Shakti ministry was also one of the promises made by the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto. The party had promised to ensure sustainability of water supply through special conservation of rural water bodies and ground water recharge.

Sitharaman said the government has identified 1,592 blocks, which are critical and over-exploited, spread across 256 districts for the Jal Shakti Abhiyan.

According to the data available with the Jal Shakti ministry, the per capita water availability has dropped to 1,400 cubic metre now from 5,000 cubic metre in 1950.


Also read: India not water deficit, severe neglect to blame for crisis, says Central Water Commission


 

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