The Union Cabinet today approved partial modification of fund allocation under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP). The details are as follows:
a) Modifying the criterion of `Rural population managing rural drinking water supply schemes` for interstate allocation of NRDWP funds to "Rural population managing rural drinking water supply schemes weighted by a Management Devolution Index".
b) Creating a component of Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance (WQM&S) and allocating 3% of NRDWP funds to this component.
c) Reducing the allocation of funds to the component for Natural Calamities from 5% to 2 %.
d) 5% of funds to remain allocated for Support activities, excluding the Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance (WQM&S) activity.
This will promote substantive devolution of functions, funds and functionaries to the Panchayats enabling them to take up management of the rural drinking water supply schemes in their areas.
Provision of a separate allocation of 3% of NRDWP funds for Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance (WQMS) of drinking water sources in rural areas, while maintaining the allocation for other Support activities at 5% of NRDWP funds, shall meet the requirements of comprehensive drinking water quality testing, surveillance and monitoring of drinking water sources and setting up support organizations like Block Resource` Centres and strengthening District Water and Sanitation Missions (DWSMs) and Water and Sanitation Support Organisations (WSSOs), which all aim to facilitate proper planning, implementation, management and operation of rural drinking water supply schemes with the participation of the target population.
Under the NRDWP, assistance is provided to States for coverage of partially covered and quality affected habitations, ensuring safe and sustainable water supply for every habitation round the year and for facilitating transfer of management of local water supply schemes to PRIs. The NRDWP allocation critereon to States has 10% weightage for "Rural population managing rural drinking water supply schemes" which aims to serve as an incentive to States for decentralization and reforms in the sector and to encourage them to devolve management of rural water supply schemes to PRIs.
Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance (WQMS) is among the most important activities included in the Support component of the NRDWP. Under the NRDWP all States are required to test their public drinking water sources in rural areas once a year for chemical contamination and twice a year for bacteriological contamination, etc. Provision of a separate earmarked allocation for WQMS is therefore necessary to enable testing of these sources. Specific fund allocation is now being given which would enable greater focus on this activity.