Union Budget 2020-2021: What came in the kitty of Water

Having its domain lies in agriculture and allied activities, rural development, drinking water and sanitation, energy and transportation sector; Water resources are quite crucial for an economy of a state. A union budget other than making financial provisions, also tell us about the vision of a government.

Union Finance minister Ms Nirmala Sitharaman had presented the union budget for 2020-2021 in the parliament on 01st February 2020. She had started with a decade long vision as a country and among other also emphasized on water management and clean Rivers.

The Financial Provisions

In the union budget of 2020-2021, approximately 39,029 crore INR are proposed to the water domain that spreaded across the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Ministry of Agriculture and farmers’ welfare, ministry of rural development, ministry of housing and urban affairs. This allocation is around 6% more than the last financial year’s proposed budget. Interesting to note, during the 2019-2020 financial year against the proposed 36,883 crore INR, the revised budget allocation had decreased to 31,110 crore INR, which is around 16% decrease in the allocation. Budget provision to Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY), the flagship scheme under the consecutive NDA regime had been 11,506 crore INR, which is around 11% higher than the last year’s allocations.

MINISTRY OF JAL SHAKTI

Combined of the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, newly formed Jal Shakti ministry had been allotted a proposed budget of 30,478 crore INR, which is 8% more than the last financial year’s budget.

In the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, as a usual trend, a key share is given to the major and medium irrigation projects. Out of the total allocated 8,960 crore INR, 5124 crore INR is given to the PMKSY components, in this case that includes the Har Khet Ko Pani, HKKP (1,050 crore), Flood management and border areas programme, FMBAP (750 crore), Atal bhujal yojana (200 crore), Servicing of loans from NABARD under PMKSY (2675 crore) and special package for Vidarbha and Marathawada (400 crore). Allocation for Atal bhujal yojana is a new addition after its long-awaited approval from the cabinet in the December 2019. Like earlier years’ trend, this year also out of the total proposed, approximately 25% of the amount is going for servicing of loans from NABARD under PMKSY that includes Payment of interest for NABARD. Further, National River Conservation Plan had been allocated 840 crore INR and that is 25% lesser then the last year’s revised allocation. Amount allocation for Namami Gange programme, River Basin Management and Ground Water Management and Regulation remain roughly the same as the last year’s allocation.

For the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, as such there isn’t any considerable change in the total allocation as 21,518 crore INR as compared to last year’s 20,061 crore INR. The Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) / National Rural Drinking Water Mission is allocated a sum of 11,500 crore INR. The government is pushing and publishing the JJM at front in this term of NDA government. Union Finance minister Ms Nirmala Sitharaman had explicitly mentioned on this program to achieve the aim to providing Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) to every rural household by 2024 and also mentioned stated that cabinet had approved 3.6 lakh crore INR for this scheme. The Swachh Bharat Mission rural had been allocated a sum of 9,994 crore INR to ensure sustainability of ODF status in all the rural areas and to cover all the villages of the country with Solid and Liquid Waste Management arrangements.

MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FARMERS’ WELFARE

Under the banner of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) – Per Drop More Crop a total allocation of 4,000 crore had been made, which is approximately 14% higher than the last year’s revised estimate. But interesting to note, the last year’s allocation is revised to 2,032 crore INR from the initially allocated 3,500 crore INR. Midst of this reduction, It’s worth mentioning here that the economic survey 2019 – 2020 had only talked about this component from the water in agriculture domain.

MINISTRY OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT

In the Department of Land Resources under the banner of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY) – Integrated Watershed Development Program a total allocation of 2,251 crore INR had been made, which is almost equal to last year’s allocation of 2,227 crore INR.

MINISTRY OF HOUSING AND URBAN AFFAIRS

Under the scheme of Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban an allocation of 2,300 crore INR is made as compared to last year’s allocation of 2,850 crore INR.

The Paradox

The prime minister of the country Mr Modi had repetitively through the radio talk show “Mann ki Baat”or through the public addresses had urged the community to participate in water conservation but budget allocation is most to all the centralized or top down implementation approach schemes or programs. One of the most appreciated and acknowledged component i.e. watershed management hadn’t seen any additional allocation as compared to last year. The current government had lunch the Jal Sakti Abhiyan for water conservation but there isn’t kept any allocation for the same and like the previous year this year also the whole mission is left in the hands of the convergence.

The budget allocation suggest that the prior and predominant focus of the Ministry of Jal Shakti is still on the water resources development rather then the water resources governance or management for that matter.

Country is going through the severe water crisis, whether that is drought or acute shortage of drinking water, midst of this PM had urged the country for the water conservation and rainwater harvesting but paradox is, still the preference of policy makers lies in the large water infrastructure and ignorance to the small and decentralised modes, this year’s budget is an evidence of the same.

Countries Water resources are degrading day by day, whether that is rivers, streams, lacks, ponds, springs or aquifers but this budget had made no significant intention to enhance the same. All focus remained on source management while neglecting the resources.

This year’s budget isn’t any different form its predecessors, whether that is provisions or the priority. Finance minister had taken a leave from year’s long colonial tradition of carrying a briefcase, we wish, the Indian Government would have took themselves away from the colonial approach of water management. No wonder if after spending almost 40,000 crore INR in water domain in the months to come, the country would be still shivering through the drudgery of acute water crisis.

Note: All the mentioned allocation are as per the Union Budget 2020.


Comments, Critiques and Suggestions of readers are always welcomed.

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