J&K in dock over poor implementation of NRDWP

Installation of water purification plants least priority
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Aug 10: Jammu and Kashmir has come under sharp criticism for poor implementation of National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), which is aimed at providing safe and adequate water for drinking, cooking and other domestic needs to every rural household.
There is hardly any component and provision of this scheme of the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation which has received due attention of the concerned authorities of the State as a result of which objectives behind the scheme could not be achieved in totality.
The National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) was launched in April 2009 by modifying the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP) and subsuming earlier sub-missions and schemes. Under this scheme, substantial funding is provided to the State.
As per the audit of NRDWP for the period from 2012 to 2017, J&K’s performance has remained dismal on almost all the major components of the scheme because of absolute non-serious approach of those who remained at the helm of affairs in the Public Health Engineering Department during these five years.
As per the provisions of the scheme, water security planning is required to optimize the use of water resources within the constraints of financial and human resources in order to meet basic needs and also take decisions with regard to water resources management.
The water security planning is to be undertaken at the village, district and state levels.  Moreover, under the broad goal set by each State, a five year comprehensive water security action plan is to be prepared. However, water security plans were not prepared at any of the three levels in blatant violation of the provision of the NRDWP.
As per the NRDWP guidelines, State Water and Sanitation Mission is required to be set up for coordination, management and monitoring of the water supply and sanitation projects in the State. The Mission is supposed to meet at least twice a year.
However,  in J&K the Mission met infrequently during 2012-17 as a result of which not only were programme guidelines violated but there was also no assurance that the programme received the support in terms of policy guidelines, coordination, monitoring and evaluation at the apex level which otherwise is critical for ensuring successful delivery, read the performance audit report.
Moreover, the State has failed to identified Technical Agency, which otherwise was needed to provide technical support to the PHE Department in planning and design of rural water supply schemes with emphasis on sustainability of the source and assist in evaluation of major and complicated water supply schemes, the report said.
Pointing out shortcomings in management of NRDWP funds also, the report said that in Ground Water Division Jammu, PHE Division Leh, PHE Division Kupwara and PHE Division Kargil an amount of Rs 4.07 crore was lying unutilized with the bank since 2014 but the concerned Executive Engineers failed to obtain permission from the higher authorities for utilization of funds.
“Moreover, Rs 0.41 crore earned as interest on NRDWP funds was remitted into the treasury in August 2016 instead of accounting the same in programme fund”, the report said.
As per the NRDWP guidelines, community water purification plants were supposed to be provided to quality affected rural habitations. However, J&K failed to install such plants in any of the quality affected habitation as such deprived the people of safe drinking water.
“Adequate and efficient operation and maintenance is essential for ensuring that water supply schemes remain functional. But, several water supply schemes became non-functional in J&K mainly due to inadequate maintenance”, the report said.
The programme guidelines stipulate that team of experts shall be constituted to review the implementation of NRDWP in different blocks frequently. However, this provision was also thrown to winds as no such team was constituted by the concerned authorities as a result of which neither water quality nor surveillance could be ensured.
There are several other provisions of the scheme which have been thrown to winds by the concerned authorities and the same has received sharp criticism during the performance audit.