Drinking water situation graver than last year: Patil

Drinking water situation graver than last year: Patil

Sounding an alarm over the drinking water prospects in the State in the coming months, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RD&PR) Minister H K Patil on Tuesday said the situation was rather grim, needing immediate attention and intervention.

Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, Patil said depleting resources coupled with non-release of funds by the Union government had compounded matters.

Stating that there was no water in any of the major reservoirs, Patil said only Mother Nature could help address the water crisis, which would be a reality in the foreseeable future. “We need a cyclone to hit us; otherwise it would become difficult to save ourselves. Unlike last year (2014-15), this time we are not at all confident about assuring water from any of the reservoirs for drinking water purposes,” he said.

He said the department was so starved for funds that it was left with only Rs 30 crore to Rs 40 crore to meet the drinking water needs. “The money required is more than Rs 1,000 crore. But the Centre is not only not releasing the allocated State’s share on time, it has also slashed the quantum of assistance to the state governments.”

Patil said that during a meeting of the RD&PR ministers of all the states on February 3, it was decided to take a delegation to the Centre and seek Union Minister for RD&PR and Sanitation and Drinking Water, Chaudhary Birender Singh, for additional funds.

The minister said the State will have to meet the shortage in funds by taking out loans. He said he would apprise Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the Cabinet of the water situation on February 19, and call for a high-level meeting with experts in the next 10 days to draw up a contingency plan. Emergency measures will be chalked out by February 23 or 24. The situation is much graver than last year as the depletion of water in the dams has been faster in 2015-16, he said.

Money woes
The budget for drinking water for 2015-16 is Rs 2,000 crore (60 pc Centre; 40 pc State), and the Centre had allocated Rs 531 crore. It has so far released Rs 219 crore.

The budget for Swacch Bharat Abhiyan is Rs 901 crore, and the Centre has released Rs 335 crore so far. The budget for NREGA scheme is Rs 2,587 crore, and the Centre has released Rs 822 crore. The State is facing a shortfall of over Rs 1,000 crore from these three components alone, added Patil.

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