Gobar Dhan irrelevant in J&K

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
Recently Jammau and Kashmir Government through General Administration Department (GAD) issued an order for constitution of State Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) for implementation of newly launched Centrally sponsored scheme “Gobar Dhan”. In addition to it, directions were issued for constitution of District Water & Sanitation / Swachta Committees and Block level committees on implementation of Gobar Dhan and Swachh Bharat Mission. At a time when J&K Rural Development Department (RDD) has failed to implement Rural Waste Management under Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-Gramin) issuing circulars and orders for another scheme like Gobar Dhan seems absurd. Having a very bitter experience with the way our Govt agencies work, I am sure GobarDhan yojna like other yojnas will meet the same fate. I wish I am proved wrong.
Swachh Bharat Mission Urban and Gramin both will complete 4 years of its implementation next month. Through this article, I am trying to highlight the implementation of SBM Gramin. J&K Government has miserably failed even to get the necessary funding from central Government to go ahead with Solid Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) in rural areas. SLWM is a component under Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-Gramin). Instead of giving this scheme a priority, the focus of Rural Development Department (RDD) during last 4 years has been on construction of lavatories which is marred by corruption and bunglings. Construction of lavatories / washrooms is to counter “Open Defecation , but again open defection is not serious threat for villages in Jammu and Kashmir like in states of UP, Bihar, Rajasthan etc. Our villages instead need scientific waste disposal mechanism but this has not been the priority of Jammu & Kashmir Government, with the result, our villages from Kathua to Kupwara and Poonch to Padder have turned into garbage dumps and cesspool of liquid waste and household sewerage. Funds are available to counter waste management issues with Government of India, but they could not be requisitioned as no proposals were sent to Government of India by J&K Government through Rural Development Department (RDD) or its another offshoot Rural Sanitation Department.
What is Gobar Dhan ?
Union Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation Uma Bharti launched Gobar Dhan scheme on April 30th this year from National Dairy Research Institute at Karnal in Haryana. GobarDhan scheme is being implemented as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM Gramin). SBM Gramin as I have already mentioned in my previous articles comprises two main components for creating clean villages – 1) creating open defecation free (ODF) villages 2) managing solid and liquid waste in villages. As already mentioned ODF is not a big challenge for J&K state but managing Solid and Liquid waste is indeed a serious threat for our rural areas. Unfortunately, all the focus of authorities especially our BDOs has been on construction of washrooms and lavatories across J&K . I can say with authority that 30 to 40 percent lavatories / washrooms that already existed across villages in Jammu and Kashmir were shown to have been constructed under SBM Gramin during last 2 to 3 years. On the other hand, managing waste in villages which should have been a priority was not at all even taken up. The Gobar Dhan scheme focuses on keeping villages clean, increasing the income of rural households, and generation of energy from cattle waste. Gobar Dhan yojna will be implemented using Solid Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) funding pattern of SBM-Gramin guidelines. The total assistance under SBM (G) for SLWM projects is worked out on the basis of total number of households in each Gram Panchayat (GP) or Panchayat Halqa , subject to a maximum of Rs 7 lakh for a GP having up to 150 households, Rs.12 lakh up to 300 households, Rs. 15 lakh up to 500 households and Rs.20 lakh for GPs having more than 500 households. Funding for SLWM project under SBM (G) will continue to be provided by the Central and State Government in the ratio of 60:40 as per the existing formula.Only those Gram Panchayats which have not availed SLWM funds under SBM(G) are eligible to receive the financial assistance under Gobar-Dhan scheme, subject to the limits of guidelines. However, States shall have the flexibility to provide additional funds to any GP based on viability under the scheme. In case of Jammu & Kashmir 99 percent Panchayats haven’t received funding under SBM Gramin for undertaking Solid Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) projects. This indicates that instead of undertaking SLWM now our villages will have to take up GobarDhan scheme, which seems to be irrelevant in case of J&K.
Budget amounting to hundreds of crores is allocated by Government of India towards Swacch Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM Gramin). SBM Gramin project vis a vis Solid Liquid Waste Management is operational in all the states except J&K. The reason is Rural Development Department failed even to prepare the Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for the project. These DPRs were to be prepared by consultants after the scheme was launched in October 2014. Till date J&K Govt has failed even to hire consultants who as per SBM Gramin guidelines have to prepare DPRs at state and district level. As DPRs were not prepared by consultants, J&K Government failed to get the funding from Union Ministry of Rural Development and Drinking Water and Sanitation. Out of 5 year Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) programme, we have not taken up any project on rural waste management during last 4 years.Gobar Dhan can’t be successful in J&K as the cattle population in J&K is not so huge like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan or UP. Our priority is Rural Waste Management but due to inefficiency of our political leaders and bureaucrats, Solid Liquid Waste Management (SWM) could not be executed even in half a dozen blocks of Jammu and Kashmir. Now J&K Government is issuing circulars and orders to take up Gobar Dhan scheme, this seems completely an unwise and absurd step. First let RDD tell people why it has failed to implement waste management schemes in villages ?Advisor B B Vyas and Chief Secretary must take up this issue with Secretary RDD and Directors of RDD Jammu / Kashmir plus Director Rural Sanitation. Infact, J&K High Court has also sought an explanation from Rural Development and Rural Sanitation Department (RDD) on this issue in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO Environmental Policy Group. Now the judiciary is the only hope which can make our bureaucrats and Govt officers implement rural waste management schemes.