Telangana fails to use drought aid, Centre refuses to give more

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Hyderabad: Officials seemingly have no time to use the drought relief funds released by the Centre to supply drinking water in Telangana state even as a majority of the municipalities and villages have become dependent on tankers for drinking water.

The Centre had sanctioned Rs 350 crore especially to meet drinking water needs but hardly half this amount has been spent, with the rest lying idle at the district level. There is no monitoring mechanism to ensure their judicious spending which is mitigating the crisis in drought-hit areas.

The Centre has refused to release additional funds unless the existing funds are spent. The Centre had allotted special funds to mitigate drinking water problem in 10 severe drought-hit states, including TS.

Out of 67 municipalities and corporations in the state, only five are receiving water every day. Residents of the rest of the urban local bodies have been getting water once or twice a week. Similarly, 5,000 villages are facing water crisis for which only water tankers are the solution.

The government has to hire private water tankers to supply water for which funds are needed. Though the funds are lying with district collectors, they remain unspent for the last one month.

When Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya approached the Centre seeking a Rs 500 crore drought aid for the state, Union rural development minister Birender Singh brought to his notice that the TS government was yet to spend the funds allotted earlier. He said that additional funds can only be sanctioned after the state government submits utilisation certificates.

These funds are supposed to be spent on tankers, repairing hand pumps, deepening of borewell, and to provide drinking water. Municipal and rural development minister K.T.Rama Rao said, “It’s wrong to say that the state government had not spent the Rs 350 crore.

When I reviewed the issue, it was found that just about Rs 30 crore remained unspent. But these funds are no way sufficient to meet the severe drinking water problem in the state. There may be some delay in submitting utilisation certificates.”

While TS had sought a Rs 3,000 crore drought package, the Centre had approved only Rs 750 crore so far. The 67 municipalities and corporations, excluding the GHMC, require 606 million litres per day, but the available quantity is only 383 MLD, a deficit of 222 MLD.

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