Editorial: Drinking water schemes

One wonders as to what happens to the tall promises the politicians and the senior officials of the government make to the people at large. The promises that are made to the people especially those who form the lower strata of the society vis-a-vis their economic status are least fulfilled.

Take the case of Najafabad, Zalpora, Nowgam, Tulurzoo, Guchira, Shiganpora, Batipora and dozens of other villages in the Sumbal Sonawari belt. These villages have been promised safe drinking water from the past five decades. However, the ground situation reveals that the very politicians and the Babus who have been making these won’t even dare to wash their hands with the water that is being provided to these villages in the name of ‘safe drinking water’. 

Water as we know is one of the most crucial commodities needed by human beings, animals and plant life. Though there is a tremendous pressure on water and its conservation, we in the Valley are fortunate enough to have ample reserves of the same that could have easily been utilized to provide clean drinking water to all the citizens of the Valley.

Even though the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation that draws plans for supply of clean drinking water to the urban and rural areas is presently running a scheme called National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP). The state of Jammu and Kashmir also gets the grants for providing drinking water to the rural areas. For the financial year 2016-17 J&K was granted rupees 222.26 crore by the Union Ministry of Drinking Water.

However, the moot question is that what happened to the funds that have been allocated to the state under this scheme. What should have been the state’s priority after receiving these funds. Shouldn’t these funds have been utilized to complete those schemes that have already been taken up by the state’s Public Health Engineering Department.

These questions arise as the central Ministry too has raised several questions about the way the state has been dealing with schemes meant for providing drinking water to the people. Therefore, the Under Secretary of the Ministry has conveyed to the State Government that it is not going to increase the allocation for drinking water schemes in the State for the financial year 2017-18 and has advised the State to increase its own contribution to the scheme.

The intention in doing so is to ensure that the contribution of the State to the already sanctioned schemes is met. Stating that State should plan targets under NRDWP keeping in view the availability of nearly Rs 275 crore considering approximately Rs 45 crore from the State Budget, the Union Ministry thinks that higher contribution of State share would be appreciated to maintain more flow of funds to this sector.

The emphasis of the Union Ministry in regard to NRDWP is that the State should increase its share so as to receive more benefits and enhanced share from the Ministry. All this boils down to the simple formula that the State of Jammu and Kashmir must find ways and means of increasing its contribution to Central schemes.

Pertinently, the state has plans to complete 232 schemes, which will cover 375 habitations with 2.21 lakh population. However, up to January this year 46 schemes were completed and 122 habitations with population of 0.74 lakh covered with safe drinking water

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