A Parliamentary panel has pulled up the government for its "self-defeating" approach of not allocating adequate funds for cleaning rivers and water bodies...
A Parliamentary panel has pulled up the government for its “self-defeating” approach of not allocating adequate funds for cleaning rivers and water bodies and castigated the Environment Ministry for not spending even resources at its disposal for the purpose.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forest in its 283rd report of Demands for Grants (2016-17) of Environment Ministry has recommended that adequate budgetary provisions should be made to the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP).
“The committee finds that more and more rivers and water bodies are getting polluted and the level of their pollution is increasing day-by-day. In such a scenario, not allocating the required funds even for the ongoing works shows a self defeating approach,” the committee chaired by Ashwani Kumar said.
It noted that the Environment Ministry utilized only Rs 37.35 crore out of the allocated Rs 66.73 crore upto December 2015 during 2015-16.
On one hand, the Ministry complains of not having been provided adequate funds for the programme and on the other it is able to expend only 56 per cent of the allocation made.
“The committee while recommending that adequate budgetary provisions should be provided to the Ministry for National River Conservation Plan during the year 2016-17, advises the Ministry to ensure that the funds are utilized optimally and the targets are met under the scheme,” it said.
The main objective of NRCP is to supplement the efforts of the state governments for improving the water quality of polluted stretches of rivers. The project entails preventing the pollution loads from reaching the rivers by undertaking various abatement measures.
These include intercepting raw sewage flowing into the rivers and diverting them for treatment, setting up sewage treatment plants, low cost sanitation works to prevent open defecation on river banks and constructing electric and improved wood-based crematoria to help conserve forests, among others.
The committee observed that against the target of 117 million litres day (mld) of sewage treatment capacity, only 77 mld capacity could be created in 2015-16.
“The Ministry informed that the balance treatment capacity of 50 mld cannot be created in 2015-16 due to non-availability of adequate or required budget provisions under the NRCP during the year,” the committee observed.