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Centre vs Mamata on Jal Jeevan Mission: Bengal ignores 56% Central aid

“Funds are also provided under Swachh Bharat Mission (G) to take up grey water treatment and reuse works.”

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Mamata Banerjee

New Delhi, June 18 : The Centre and West Bengal government seem to be engaged in a fresh tussle and this time the issue relates to the Modi government”s Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) which aims to provide tap water to every household by 2024.

For providing potable water to arsenic or fluoride-affected habitations, the Centre has released a total of Rs 1,305.70 crore to West Bengal since March 2017 under the JJM scheme, out of which 573.36 crore is still lying unutilised, a Jal Shakti Ministry note reveals.

As per the calculation, West Bengal government did not utilise 56 per cent of the amount issued to it by the Central government since March 2017. Against the target of providing tap connections to 32 lakh households in 2019-20, only 4,750 tap connections were provided in the state, the note says, adding, West Bengal, further, was allocated Rs 994 crore in 2019-20, out of which the state could only spend Rs 428 crore.

Taking note of the state government”s attitude towards JJM—the Centre”s ambitious project– Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat recently wrote to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee and expressed concern over the “slow progress” of works under the mission in the state.

The letter mentions that the allocation for the state has been increased from Rs 994 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 1,610.76 crore in 2020-21 and with previous year”s unspent balance, West Bengal has an assured availability of Rs 2,760 crore of Central funds for JJM. With matching state share, West Bengal will have Rs 5,645 crore during 2020-21 for implementation of JJM, which stressed that providing potable water to every rural household is a national priority and the state should make efforts to accomplish the goal in a time-bound manner.

The JJM aims to provide potable drinking water to every rural household through tap connections by 2024. The Prime Minister in his last Independence Day speech spoke about it urging states to implement the scheme which focuses on the objective to improve the lives of rural women, especially girls by reducing their drudgery.

While stressing on the need for proper planning to be done to achieve the goal of JJM within the time frame with focus on retrofitting or augmentation of existing water supply systems to provide tap connections to remaining households, the Jal Shakti Minister said about 1 crore households can be provided tap connections in 21,600 villages in the state reported to have existing piped water supply schemes.

Shekhawat mentioned that potable water supply to water quality-affected habitations is a top priority under JJM and potable water is to be provided in arsenic or fluoride-affected habitations before December, 2020.

Priority is to be given to saturation of villages in Aspirational districts and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe dominant villages or habitations, JE-AES (Japanese Encephalitis-Acute Encephalitis Syndrome)-affected priority districts and villages under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, the Jal Shakti Ministry note mentions.

Stressing on the role and responsibility of the local community, the Jal Shakti Minister requested to involve local village communities and Gram Panchayats and user groups in planning, implementation, management, operation and maintenance of water supply systems to ensure long-term sustainability to achieve drinking water security.

In all villages, IEC (Information, Education and Communication) campaign along with community mobilisation needs to be taken up to make the Jal Jeevan Mission truly a people”s movement. Emphasising on the importance of water sources for long-term sustainability of water supply systems, the Union minister urged for strengthening of existing drinking water sources for long-term sustainability of drinking water supply systems.

In 2020-21, West Bengal will receive Rs 4,412 crore as 15th Finance Commission Grant to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and 50 per cent of this amount is mandatorily to be utilised for water supply and sanitation, the ministry said.

“Funds are also provided under Swachh Bharat Mission (G) to take up grey water treatment and reuse works.”

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

India

Shia board issues Muharram guidelines

Muharram, this year, begins on August 20 and ends on September 18.

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Muharram Shia

Lucknow, Aug 12 : The All India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) has issued its Muharram advisory, asking people to follow all norms of social distancing, wear masks and wherever possible, take part in Muharram rituals online or via TV channels broadcasting them.

The first month of the Islamic calendar, Muharram is a mourning period in remembrance of Imam Husain-Prophet Muhammad’s grandson and his family and companions who were martyred by Yazid in Karbala (Iraq) in 680 AD.

The 14-point advisory issued by board president Maulana Syed Saim Mehdi and general secretary Maulana Yasoob Abbas said that all mosques and Imambaras with carpets and floor covers should ensure disinfecting the space before and after every majlis (sermon session).

Clerics said that the advisory was in accordance with the guidelines by ayatullahs from Iraq and Iran, including Grand Ayatullah Ali Al Sistani.

Children, pregnant women and the elderly have been advised to stay at home and use online and other mediums to be part of the sermons.

Water and food distributed among the poor as ‘tabarruk’, should be packed and sealed, and guidelines issued by the administration should be followed. A number of Shia and Sunni clerics have also met the district officials and discussed the guidelines with them.

Muharram, this year, begins on August 20 and ends on September 18.

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India

Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmistha posts emotional tweet

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Pranab Mukharjee Iftar Party

New Delhi, Aug 12 : As former President Pranab Mukherjee remains in critical condition after a brain surgery, her daughter and Congress leader Sharmistha Mukherjee on Wednesday posted an emotional message on her Twitter handle.

“Last year, August 8 was one of the happiest day for me as my dad received the Bharat Ratna. Exactly a year later, on August 10 he fell critically ill. May God do whatever is best for him and give me strength to accept both joys and sorrows of life with equanimity. I sincerely thank all for their concerns,” she tweeted.

Pranab Mukherjee remains on ventilator support at the Army’s Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi. The 84-year-old had earlier tested positive for coronavirus. He had undergone a brain surgery for the removal of a clot.

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Derogatory social media post accused arrested in Bengaluru

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Begaluru Violence

Bengaluru, Aug 12 : City police have arrested the person accused of posting a derogatory message which triggered riots in Bengaluru east last night, an official said on Wednesday.

“With regard to the incidents in D.J. Halli, accused Naveen was arrested for posting derogatory posts,” said city Police Commissioner Kamal Pant.

Naveen is said to be the relative of Congress MLA Akanda Srinivas Murthy.

Following his social media post, irate mobs resorted to rioting and arson in D.J. Halli, K.G. Halli, Pulikeshinagar and Kaval Byresandra.

Pant said 110 accused persons involved in the rioting have been arrested.

“Total 110 persons accused arrested for arson, stone pelting and assault on the police. Appeal to all to cooperate with the police to maintain peace,” said the police commissioner.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa said last night’s mischief lead to rioting and assault on Murthy’s home and the D.J. Halli police station.

He directed the officials to take action against the perpetrators.

“The attack on journalists, police and the public in the riot last night was unpredictable. The government will not tolerate such provocations and rumours,” said Yediyurappa in Kannada.

He said strict action against the perpetrators was certain and appealed to the people to act with restraint.

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