Jaipur, Feb. 28: The Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan was caught on the wrong foot in the Assembly over the under-utilisation of Central funds for water supply schemes during the past four years.
The revelation left the ruling Congress members stunned as the ruling party has been accusing the Centre of inadequate financial aid to the state to meet the long spell of drought.
Replying to a starred question posed by the BJP’s Rajendra Rathore, public health engineering minister C.P. Joshi conceded that the state had failed to fully utilise Central funds for water supply schemes in rural and urban areas from 1998-99.
These schemes included the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Scheme, the Accelerated Urban Water Supply Scheme, the ARP for desert areas, the Prime Minister’s Gramodaya Yojna, the Churu-Bisau Scheme and the Defluoridation Scheme.
Figures available for these schemes for the current financial year till December revealed tardy implementation.
When the minister argued that it could be due to the delayed release of funds and assured full utilisation by March end, the Opposition demanded that Gehlot be summoned to the House.
There was pandemonium in the Assembly when agitated Opposition members rushed to the well twice and started raising slogans against the government, resulting in a walkout by the Opposition during question hour.
Opposition leader Gulab Chand Kataria of the BJP and Amara Ram of the CPM pointed out that Gehlot had made a habit of accusing the Centre of inadequate assistance to the drought-hit state and criticised the government for its reckless and “criminal” attitude towards the drinking water crisis.
Rathore pointed out that the unutilised money in many of these schemes was as high as 30-40 per cent of the total funds available. Less than 50 per cent of the funds have been utilised during the current financial year till December, he said.