Less than half of rural homes have access to safe drinking water: CAG

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The National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) has fallen far short of its goal to provide all rural homes with access to safe drinking water by 2017, despite ₹81,168 crore spent over five years, according to a performance audit by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

The programme promised access to safe drinking water for all homes, piped water supply to half of the rural population and household connections for 35% of the homes. Instead, by December 2017, only 44% of the homes had access to safe drinking water at all, while only 18% of the population had piped water supply and 17% of the homes had household connections.

During the 2012-17 period, the overall coverage of rural habitations with access to at least 55 litres of water per person per day increased by a mere 5.5%, the report said.

In its review of the NRDWP’s performance, the CAG said: “Implementation of the scheme was marked by lack of proper planning and funds management and delivery, as well as ineffective execution of works that resulted in undue delays and expenditure.”

The allocation of Central government funds for the scheme dipped sharply from 2015, and the States were unable to compensate [the shortfall] by increasing their own financial commitment to the scheme. Allocation of Central government funds dropped from more than ₹14,000 crore a year to less than ₹7,000 crore in 2015, but the CAG notes that even the reduced allocations were not fully utilised.

The total financial implication of the audit findings works out to ₹2,875 crore, which is a “very significant” 15% of the expenditure of ₹19,151 crore covered during the CAG’s test check of scheme management and implementation. The audit found incomplete, abandoned and non-operational works, unproductive expenditure on equipment, non-functional sustainability structures and gaps in contract management.

The CAG also highlighted sustainability concerns, noting that 98% of the schemes, including those for piped water, continued to be based on unsustainable groundwater resources.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 8:27:15 AM |

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