Union Budget 2020-2021: Tap-water to all might remain a pipe dream

Jal Jeevan Mission receives only a marginal impetus 

By Shagun
Published: Sunday 02 February 2020

The Centre's flagship programme Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), which aims to provide piped drinking water to all rural households by 2024, saw an increase of just 15 per cent in the budget allocation for financial year 2020-21. 

Allocation for the scheme in the current financial year is Rs 11,500 crore, compared to Rs 10,000 crore last year. However, this increase is marginal compared to 2019-20, when funds for the mission were almost doubled over the year 2018-19.  

This marginal outlay to the mission at a time when India is facing an acute water crisis, raises concern as to whether the funds are enough to meet the piped water dream. The government has time and again declared providing piped water as its top priority.

Twenty-one Indian cities, including metropolises like Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people, according to a report by government think tank Niti Aayog. 

Barely 18 per cent of India’s rural households have access to piped water.

In a reply to the Lok Sabha last year, the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti had said that at least 189.7 million rural habitations are getting less than 40 litres per capita per day, which is the norm while implementing rural water supply schemes for providing potable water. 

The allocation to JJM is also less in comparison to its other core schemes like Smart City Mission, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, and National Programme of Mid Day Meal in Schools, among others. 

Funds allocated to the flagship programme of the Jal Shakti ministry is just 37 per cent of the total expenditure set aside for it. In fact, the expenditure for the ministry, formed only last year, saw a marginal increase of 17 per cent from the Revised Estimates of Rs 25,878 crore in 2019-20.  

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