Union Budget 2019-20: Gush of funds for piped water

The government allocated Rs 9,150.36 crore for National Rural Drinking Water Programme — increase of 69% from last year

By Shagun
Published: Friday 05 July 2019
Photo: Getty Images

As India grapples with acute water crisis, the Union budget on July 5, 2019, put an impetus on the availability of drinking water by allocating Rs 9,150.36 crore for the National Rural Drinking Water Programme.

The programme — a component of National Rural Drinking Water Mission — saw a massive increase of 69 per cent in allocation, up from Rs 5,391.32 crore in 2018-19.

This comes at a time when major Indian states, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Maharashtra, are suffering from major water crisis.   

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam, in her maiden Budget speech, highlighted that providing drinking water to every household is government’s top priority and announced Jal Jeevan Mission to achieve Har Ghar Jal (piped water supply) to all rural households by 2024.

The Budget allocated more than Rs 20,000 crore for drinking water and sanitation — an increase of 0.11 per cent compared to last year.  

The Budget mentioned that 1,592 critical and over-exploited blocks were identified under Jal Shakti Abhiyan.

The focus will also be on integrated demand and supply side management at a local level, creation of local infrastructure for rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge, and household waste water management, Sitharaman said.

The Jal Jeevan Mission will be implemented by the Jal Shakti Ministry, into which the ministries of Drinking Water and Sanitation and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation were recently merged.

The government has, however, allocated money separately to the two departments of the ministry.

Under the Department of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation, a total of Rs 8245.25 crore has been allocated, an increase of eight per cent from last year.

Aiming to address the agrarian crisis in rural India, schemes under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana —for irrigation — received an allocation of Rs 4,115.56 crore, an increase of 659 crore from last year. 

However, the components under it like har khet ko pani (Water for every field) and special package for irrigation projects to address agrarian distress in districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada and other drought prone areas under Maharashtra saw a cut of Rs 1,111 crore and Rs 200 crore respectively.

Har khet ko pani provides for implementation of projects like repair, renovation and restoration of water bodies, surface minor irrigation schemes, and ground water irrigation.

There is no change in allocation for cleaning of Ganga under Namami Gange project, which was Modi government’s top priority in its first term.

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