Ravi S Singh
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 7
The Union Jal Shakti Ministry on Monday dispatched teams of experts in the opposition-ruled states of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh to provide assistance to them to realise the Centre’s goal of “Har Ghar Jal” under its flagship Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM).
The call for the “Har Ghar Jal” was given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It aims to provide every rural household in the country with piped drinking water by 2024.
Although the Ministry officials say the sending of the teams last week was apolitical, the two states are on the BJP radar for its expansion.
Political observers see the development more than mere coincidence, especially with regard to the timing.
In West Bengal, the BJP is on an expansion spree, to the extent of it winning 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state since the 2019 general elections and emerging as the principal challenger to the ruling TMC.
In the process, it decimated the Left Front and the Congress.
Assembly elections in West Bengal are due in April-May next year and the BJP has made it known that it will go full tilt to dethrone the ruling TMC from power.
In Andhra Pradesh, the BJP is said to be preparing grounds for a surge, just like it did in recent Hyderabad Municipal Corporation election in Telangana, which was carved out of it (Andhra Pradesh).
It has emerged as the main Opposition in the corporation from nowhere, marginalising the established regional player TDP, and the Congress in the process.
“The team is visiting different parts of the West Bengal and interacting with field-level officials involved with the implementation of water supply schemes, as well as Gram Pradhans and members of Gram Panchayats,” the Jal Shakti Ministry said.
The team is also holding meetings with the chairpersons of the District Water and Sanitation Mission and District Collectors to brief them about the progress and seek their intervention for speedy implementation of the programme.
“The Government of India is working in tandem with the states to achieve the goals of JJM within the time frame,” the Ministry in communique said.
During 2020-21, fund allocation to West Bengal has increased to Rs 1,610.76 crore. With an opening balance of Rs 1,146.58 crore, the state has an assured availability of Rs 2,760.76 crore of Central share funds.
Hence during 2020-21, along with the state share, about Rs 5,770 crore is available under the Jal Jeevan Mission to provide household tap connections in West Bengal.
Further, additional funds, too, can be provided based on the progress of implementation in the form of performance incentive under the JJM.
West Bengal has received Rs 4,412 crore as the 15th Finance Commission Grants to Panchayati Raj Institutions, 50 per cent of which will mandatorily be spent on water and sanitation.