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Jal Shakti bats for control of 50% finance panel grants for rural local bodies

According to sources, this was suggested by the Jal Shakti Ministry during a meeting between Fifteenth Finance Commission (FC-XV) chairman N K Singh and Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Wednesday.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi | Updated: June 19, 2020 5:54:49 am
Jal Shakti, Jal Shakti Ministry, Finance Commission grants, Finance Commission grants Jal Shakti, rural local bodies Sources said that the Ministry of Jal Shakti has proposed to get control of the 50 per cent tied grant. (File Photo)

The Ministry of Jal Shakti has called for the Finance Commission grants for rural and urban local bodies, currently under the administrative control of the Finance Ministry, to be placed with three different ministries.

According to sources, this was suggested by the Jal Shakti Ministry during a meeting between Fifteenth Finance Commission (FC-XV) chairman N K Singh and Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Wednesday.

The FC-XV had recommended a Rs 90,000-crore grant for local bodies in 2020-21. Of this, Rs 29,250 crore is for urban local bodies and Rs 60,750 crore is for rural local bodies. The grant for rural local bodies is further bifurcated as 50 per cent basic or untied grant, and 50 per cent tied grant (for sanitation and maintenance of ODF status; and supply of drinking water, rain water harvesting and water recycling).

Sources said that the Ministry of Jal Shakti has proposed to get control of the 50 per cent tied grant.

Currently, Finance Commission grants for urban and rural local bodies come under the Finance Ministry which, on the recommendations of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, releases grants for Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to state governments in two instalments. The same is credited by the state governments to their respective rural local bodies. However, the Ministry of Jal Shakti now has proposed a new mechanism.

“50% of the FC Grants to PRIs for water supply & sanitation to be placed with DDWS (Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation), M/o Jal Shakti. This should be dovetailed at GP level in the Village Action Plan with focus on water and sanitation service delivery,” the Jal Shakti Ministry said in the presentation to FC-XV.

The presentation was done by Bharat Lal, Additional Secretary, DDWS, sources said.

The ministry further suggested that other half of the Finance Commission Grants to PRIs should be placed with the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.

“50% untied grant may be placed with M/o Panchayati Raj for other works as per requirement and based on GPDP; Funds should be linked with performance,” it said.

GPDP stands for Gram Panchayat Development Plan, which are supposed to be prepared by the Gram Panchayats to achieve the goal of economic development and social justice.

“FC Grants to ULBs (urban local bodies) may be placed with M/o Housing & Urban Development. ULBs to prepare their five-year plan with reform targets and funding should be linked to specific outputs/performance.”

During the presentation, ministry officials also cited the shortfall in the financing of the Centre’s ambitious Jal Jeevan Mission. The ministry pegged the requirement of an amount of about Rs 82,000 crore as a part of “sectoral allocations for infrastructural development” to achieve drinking water security.

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