More funds for quality drinking water

New Delhi: Government today approved more devolution of powers to panchayats in the management of National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) and carving out of a special fund to monitor quality of drinking water.

The Union Cabinet approved partial modification of fund allocation for NRDWP to promote "substantive devolution of functions, funds and functionaries" to panchayats to enable them to take up management of this scheme in their areas.

It also gave the nod for creation of a component of Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance (WQM and S) and allocated three per cent of NRDWP funds for this purpose. However, the allocation of funds for natural calamities has been reduced from 5 per cent to 2 per cent. The funds allocated for support activities, excluding the water quality monitoring and surveillance activity, will remain at five per cent of the funds.

A Management Devolution Index has been incorporated in the "Rural population managing rural drinking water supply schemes" for interstate allocation of NRDWP funds.

"These changes shall help in meeting the requirements of comprehensive drinking water quality testing, surveillance and monitoring of drinking water sources and setting up support organisations like Block Resource` Centres," an official said.

This will also strengthen District Water and Sanitation Missions (DWSMs) and Water and Sanitation Support Organisations (WSSOs), which 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, 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.