Centre snubs K'taka for fund under utilisation

Money for improving quality of drinking water in rural areas
Last Updated 20 January 2013, 19:25 IST

The governments of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and some other states have drawn the ire of the Centre for failing to report the utilisation of funds provided to them for improving quality of drinking water in rural areas in the current financial year.

Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are also among the States, which could spend less than 50 per cent of the support fund the Centre provided to them under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme, prompting the latter to threaten to put on hold the release of the second installment of the total annual allocation made for them.

In a communiqué to the governments of Karnataka and several other states last Wednesday, the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation noted that it was yet to report any utilisation of the first installment of the water quality component of the NRDWP fund for 2012-13.

The Union Cabinet on June 14, 2012 decided to earmark 5 per cent of the NRDWP fund to improve water quality, particularly for the habitations with drinking water sources affected by chemical contamination and the districts with high incidence of Japanese Encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis.

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation issued guidelines for utilisation of the fund specially earmarked for improving water quality. It was decided that the 75 per cent of the water quality fund under the NRDWP would be allocated to the states with habitations having drinking water sources affected either by salinity or by arsenic, fluoride, nitrate and iron contaminations.

The remaining 25 per cent was to be allocated to Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Bihar and West Bengal, which had 60 districts with high incidence of Japanese Encephalitis and acute encephalitis.

The Centre released Rs 2.71 crore to Karnataka as the first installment of the fund earmarked to improve water quality under the NRDWP in 2012-13. But the State was yet to report any significant utilisation of the first installment.

“This situation is a matter of concern and may result in the non-release of second installment under this component to your state for the current year,” the MDWS Joint Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar wrote to Karnataka government’s secretary or principal secretary in charge of rural drinking water supply.

He sent similar notes to the officials of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Assam. He requested the state government officials to take immediate action to accelerate implementation of the schemes taken up under the water quality component of the NRDWP.

Karnataka has altogether 2,806 habitations, where 29,96,720 people have to collect drinking water from sources contaminated with fluoride. The State also has nitrate and arsenic contaminations in drinking water sources in 1,378 rural habitations with 13,43,886 people and 19 habitations with 26,612 people respectively.

According to the MDWS, altogether 1,04,160 rural habitations had been identified across the country having one or more drinking water sources contaminated with excess arsenic, fluoride, iron, salinity or nitrate.

(Published 20 January 2013, 19:25 IST)

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