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Himachal CM, his water minister use nearly half Jal Jeevan funds in their constituencies — rest shared by 66 other seats

The Congress moved a cut motion to oppose the allocation for ‘irrigation, water supply and sanitation’ in the government’s demand for grants.

By: Express News Service | Shimla |
Updated: March 17, 2021 10:09:47 am
Jal Jeevan funds, Himachal CM, Jai Ram Thakur, Shimla news, Himachal Pradesh news, Indian express newsThe decision was taken in a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur. (File)

The Opposition Congress in Himachal Pradesh Tuesday sought to corner the ruling BJP in the Vidhan Sabha over two assembly segments – Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur’s Seraj and Jal Shakti Minister Mahender Singh’s Dharampur – being allocated nearly half the total funds marked under the Jal Jeevan Mission.

The Congress moved a cut motion to oppose the allocation for ‘irrigation, water supply and sanitation’ in the government’s demand for grants. Congress MLA from Dalhousie Asha Kumari cited a reply by the Jal Shakti ministry tabled in the House last week, which said that out of a total of Rs 939 crore spent under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in the state in 2019-20 till August, Rs 263 crore had been spent in Dharampur and Rs 181 crore in Seraj – with 47.3 percent of the total fund being used in these two constituencies.

In contrast, a mere Rs 4 lakh had been used in Jwalamukhi constituency, whose MLA from BJP Ramesh Dhawala had last week strongly objected to this disparity among various constituencies in allocating funds under the mission.

“The entire money has gone in the constituencies of two people – number one and number two,” said leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri. Without elaborating, Congress legislator Asha Kumari said the ‘Hum Do, Hamare Do’ principle is active both at the Centre and in the state.

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Denying the accusations, the chief minister said all 68 constituencies in the state are being taken care of while allocating funds for development works. Thakur said that his constituency was in dire need of development. “Do you know what was the situation in Seraj? How many panchayats were without roads and other basic infrastructure? Even if some development works have taken place there as per set parameters, what is the problem?” he asked.

Replying to the cut motion, Jal Shakti minister said Haroli (Agnihotri’s constituency) can not be compared with Seraj while allocating funds as the former is very small as compared to the latter having a huge geographical area. “Big constituencies like Pachhad, Shillai and Kinnaur can also not be compared with Haroli. So the same amount of money can not be allotted in each of the 68 constituencies,” he added.

He said that every household will get a tap water connection under JJM till 2024 and no constituency will be neglected.

The minister expressed concern over climate change which he said may prove more fatal as compared to the coronavirus. Alarming situation has arisen as Rohtang in Lahaul-Spiti has received only 3-4 feet snowfall this season as compared to normal 30-40 feet snowfall which may result in water scarcity not only in HP but also in neighbouring states in the coming summer.

Climate change is not a crisis for only the ruling party or the Opposition but common man is also worried about the situation emerging due to it, he added.

Several MLAs raised the issue of increasing water shortage in the state, saying that several places have already started witnessing water shortage ahead of summer. Asha Kumari said that parts of Shimla town and Banikhet in Chamba are facing shortage of water supply.

Rampur MLA Nand Lal said that a village in his area is gets water supply after eight days while Rohru MLA Mohan Lal Brakta said that parts of his constituency receive water after weeks or sometimes a month. Naina Devi MLA Ram Lal Thakur and Shilla MLA Harshwardhan Chauhan said contractor laying water pipes under JJM are not installing them under the ground as per contract conditions, leading to damage of pipes.

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