J&K’s performance under SBM (G) remains dismal despite spending over Rs 200 crore

Fails to utilize Rs 298 cr under sanitation coverage, NRDWP

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Mar 16: Shocking it may sound but it is a fact that despite making an expenditure of over Rs 200 crore during past three and half years the performance of Jammu and Kashmir under Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) has remained dismal and far below the national average thereby defeating the objective of the ambitious scheme of the Union Government.
Moreover, the State Government has failed to utilize whopping Rs 298 crore under Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin and National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) much to the disappointment of the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
The Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin scheme was launched on October 2, 2014 by the Prime Minister to accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to achieve an Open Defecation Free (ODF) and Swachh Bharat by October 2, 2019-marking the 150th birth anniversary of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi.
As per the official document, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR, during the period between October 2, 2014 and February 8, 2018, J&K made an expenditure of Rs 200.10 crore under Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin. However, an amount of Rs 132..81 crore remained unspent as on February 8, 2018 during 2017-18 despite the fact that the current financial year is also set to conclude within another 15 days.
Despite making expenditure of Rs 200.10 crore Central Share under Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin during past three and half years, the performance of Jammu and Kashmir has remained dismal thereby defeating the objective of the ambitious scheme of the Union Government.
The sanitation coverage in J&K as on December 31, 2017 was 44.80%, which is far below the national average and in comparison to adjoining States. During past three and half years, Punjab has achieved 93.94% sanitation coverage while as Himachal Pradesh, which is having topography similar to that of Jammu and Kashmir, has achieved 100% sanitation coverage.
As per the official data, against total 7575 villages only 515 villages have been made Open Defecation Free (ODF) so far, which is merely 6.80%. Even physical performance of J&K in respect of number of Individual Household Latrines (IHHLs) and Community Sanitation Complexes (CSCs) is not up to the satisfaction of Union Ministry of Sanitation.
During 2015-16, a total of 64222 IHHLs and 162 CSCs were constructed while as during 2016-17, 81787 IHHLs and 251 CSCs were constructed by the concerned authorities in different parts of Jammu and Kashmir. During the current financial year, 228993 IHHLs and 235 CSCs have been constructed so far.
What to talk of showing good performance on sanitation front, J&K has also failed to come up to the expectations of the Union Government as far as providing safe drinking water to the people is concerned.
This can be gauged from the official figures, which reveal that against a total of 15958 habitations only 9002 have been provided safe drinking water while as nearly 7000 habitations don’t have complete access to drinking water despite the fact that huge funds have been provided to J&K under National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) of the Union Government.
Such a large number of habitations have been deprived of safe drinking water mainly due to the slackness on the part of the concerned authorities in ensuring proper and timely utilization of funds released by the Union Ministry of Sanitation and Drinking Water.
As on February 6, 2018, an amount of Rs 240.23 crore was released to J&K under NRDWP but the concerned authorities could spend only Rs 132.17 crore as a result of which Rs 165.93 crore remained as unspent balance.
“The Union Ministry of Sanitation and Drinking Water has conveyed its concern over dismal performance in implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin and slackness in utilization of funds under NRDWP to the higher authorities of the State with the hope that necessary steps will be initiated to give impetus to the implementation of both the schemes”, sources said.
It is pertinent to mention here that few days back Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while holding video-conference with Chief Secretaries of various States, had asked the J&K Chief Secretary B B Vyas to gear up the official machinery for improving the performance of State under Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin.
The Prime Minister had also stressed that complete sanitation should be the agenda of the J&K Government, its employees and the people.