New Delhi: Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday questioned the Modi government's commitment to solve the water crisis in parts of the country and alleged it had "slashed" funds for providing drinking water in rural areas.
Hitting out at the NDA government, CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury claimed it "slashed" funds meant for National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) from around Rs 11,000 crore in 2012-13 and 2013-14 to Rs 9,250 crore in 2014-15 and further reduced it to Rs 4,373 crore in 2015-16, which was slightly increased to Rs 5,000 crore for the on-going fiscal.
The reduction in the funds, Yechury observed, comes when the government allegedly made excess spending on Swacch Bharat Abhiyan advertisements than giving relief to parched regions.
"This is the level of seriousness and commitment that the BJP government at the Centre has towards those suffering from drought. It is instead interested in spending money on promotion and advertising of the Abhiyan.
"It accounts for 83 percent of all advertisement spending on various schemes done by the Centre. That is where the priorities of Mr Modi and his government lie, 33 crore Indians reeling under drought be damned," he said in a Facebook post.
The Rajya Sabha member sought to know how the government will achieve its goal of making available piped water supply
to 90 percent of households by 2022 when funds are slashed as he referred to a report by Standing Committee of Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in this regard.
The ministry, which handles NRDWP, had in the report released on 6 May said its requests for funds for NRDWP have been "repeatedly denied" by Union Finance Ministry, NITI Aayog and Prime Minister's Office.
"The Secretary of the Ministry expressed his helplessness before the Standing Committee: 'Since 2012-2013, we were getting Rs 10,500 crore at that time; and this year, we got only Rs 5,000 crore. So, the question was this. How are we going to achieve coverage with half the money? It is a very basic question, which we are also asking ourselves'," Yechury quoted the official as saying.
Claiming the BJP government has "massive plans" lined up to celebrate its two years in office at a time when the country is witnessing one of its "worst droughts", he said sarcastically that the Modi dispensation may launch a "selfie with drought campaign or an application which will provide virtual water" to users.
"Perhaps another meaningless acronym will be unveiled at a gala function, not bothered with the fact that the cost of that function alone could provide water to a few hundred villages. Does this government even care?" he asked.
Updated Date: May 10, 2016 19:17 PM