New Delhi: In line with its thrust on “minimum government maximum governance”, the Modi government Friday clubbed key water-related sectors under one umbrella ministry while also carving out a new animal husbandry ministry to bring better focus on livestock-related issues.
While allocating portfolios for the new cabinet, the government clubbed the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation with the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and was renamed “Jal Shakti”.
The new portfolio has been handed to two-time Rajasthan MP Gajendra Singh Shekhawat who took oath as cabinet minister Thursday.
In Modi’s first cabinet, union highways minister Nitin Gadkari took care of the water resources and ganga rejuvenation portfolio while Uma Bharti handled the drinking water and sanitation portfolio.
On Friday, the Modi government also carved out a separate ministry for animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries. It was earlier under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
Giriraj Singh has been given charge of the new ministry while first-time Odisha MP Pratap Sarangi has been named the junior minister.
But this is not all.
In some instances, where complementary ministries have not been merged, they have been put under one cabinet minister. For example, Narendra Singh Tomar has been given the charge of agriculture, rural development and panchayati raj.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s 2019 manifesto had said that in order to ensure better implementation of policies and coordination, similar and complementary departments will be merged into sectoral ministries.
The party’s 2014 manifesto, too, made a similar promise, but the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government could implement it only perfunctorily.
In 2014, there was talk to bring pharmaceuticals department and Ayush under the health ministry. But it could not be done because of red tapism and some opposition from within the departments concerned, a senior bureaucrat who didn’t wish to be named told ThePrint earlier this week.
Later in 2017, the government could merge only two ministries — urban development and housing and urban poverty alleviation (HUPA) — and bring it under the umbrella of housing and urban affairs ministry.
In similar changes in 2018, Gadkari was made in-charge of three key ministries — road transport and highways, shipping and water resources. Instead of merging ministries, Modi constituted a Group of Infrastructure headed by Gadkari.
Besides Gadkari, the group consisted of ministers from railways, aviation, power, petroleum and telecom and its mandate was to sort out issues regarding sharing of infrastructure for utilities like telecom cables, etc.
However, in the new government, Gadkari has retained the highways portfolio, while the shipping ministry has been given to Minister of State with Independent charge Mansukh Mandaviya. In place of shipping, Gadkari has been given charge of micro, small and medium enterprises.
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