Faced with the problem of fluoride and arsenic material contaminating their potable water resources, 15 states are set to receive a special assistance from the Centre to tide over the crisis. The government has already released Rs72,676 lakh for the states following an advice from NITI Aayog. In the north, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir figure on the list and would receive Rs3,935 lakh, Rs266 lakh, Rs43,129 lakh and Rs47 lakh, respectively. A release order (The Tribune has a copy) issued by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, said, “The amount for special assistance grant is being released on the examination and recommendation by NITI Aayog and the states need to follow certain conditions while utilising the fund.” The states would have to transfer the amount to implementing agencies within 15 days of its receipt from the Centre. “Any delay will require the state governments to release the grant with interest at prevalent RBI rate for the period of default,” it said. The allocated money shall only be utilised by the states for mitigation of drinking water problems in the habitations affected with arsenic and fluoride content, it said. The guidelines suggest the states should take up “such habitations where the entire population is to be provided with safe drinking water”, which should not be less than 8-10 litres per person. Purification plants would be set up with the grant while the cost of raw water and electricity would be borne by state governments.

Source: April 4, 2016, The Tribune