New Delhi, May 25: Deputy chief minister Hemant Soren today reiterated Jharkhand’s demand for Rs 2,500 crore in the next five years to increase piped water coverage from one-tenth to a fourth of the state’s population.
Both the state and central governments have to bear 50 per cent of the overall funds. Jharkhand has demanded Rs 232 crore as central share for this fiscal.
The demand made by Jharkhand, which has spent only Rs 520.2 crore out of its allocation of Rs 752.24 crore in the last five years, is in line with Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh’s target of supplying piped drinking water to 90 per cent of Indian households by 2022.
At a meeting of state ministers and secretaries of rural water and sanitation, Hemant reasoned that Jharkhand’s 1.2 lakh habitations were mostly sparsely populated and at a distance of two to five kilometres from each other.
This pushes up the per capita cost for providing piped water to Rs. 5,000. Therefore, unless the allocation was higher, progress and expenditure would remain slow, he argued.
According to drinking water secretary Sudhir Prasad, Jharkhand also echoed the demand of Chhattisgarh and Odisha to hike the funding ratio between Centre and states from 50:50 to 90:10.
“For areas with arsenic and fluoride poisoning, costs of purification are high. Here, the ratio should be at least 75:25,” he said.
Jharkhand, which has drawn praise for introducing solar water pumps, wants it to be made a national scheme. The Union ministry too was contemplating introducing the pumps in 10,000 habitations as a pilot project, Prasad added.
Jharkhand had faced teething problems with newly elected panchayat representatives, who the state government had blamed for delay in selecting sites for water facilities.
However, by the end of the last financial year Jharkhand was able to spend 70.77 per cent of the central funds for drinking water.
Meanwhile, when asked about the upcoming presidential polls, Hemant said: “A tribal president will enhance the glory and self-respect of our democracy.” But he refused to either confirm or deny support for NCP leader and presidential hopeful P.A. Sangma.