Govt to restructure UPA-era drinking water scheme

The government on Friday decided to spend Rs 23,050 crore on providing drinking water to people living in villages across the country. It also decided to restructure a programme introduced by the erstwhile Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the same.

A meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to restructure the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), which was launched by the UPA government in 2009. An official press release issued after the meeting stated that the restructuring was aimed at making the programme "outcome-based, competitive and better-monitored" with increased focus on sustainability to ensure good quality service to the rural population.

The government earmaked a sum of Rs 23,050 crore for the NRDWP for the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) period from 2017-18 to 2019-20. The programme will continue till March 2020 and cover all the rural population across the country. The restructuring, according to the press release, will make the programme flexible, result-oriented, competitive, and enable the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) to reach the goal of increasing coverage of sustainable piped water supply.

An MDWS official said that a new sub-programme under the NRDWP - the National Water Quality Sub-Mission (NWQSM) - was launched in February 2017 to address the urgent need of providing clean drinking water to about 28,000 habitations having arsenic and fluoride contamination in sources of drinking water. Nearly Rs 12,500 crore as central share would be required over the next four years up to March, 2021 for the NWQSM and it would be funded from the allocation under NRDWP.

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