New Delhi, Feb 28 (IANS) Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Thursday allocated Rs.15,260 crore ($2.77 billion) to the ministry of drinking water and sanitation to expand and improve drinking water supply in the country.
Chidambaram Thursday announced a hike of Rs.2,260 crore ($409 million) to the outlay of the ministry over the revised budget estimates of Rs.13,000 crore.
The outlay of Rs.15,260 crore for 2013-14 translates into a hike of 17 percent over the revised budget estimates.
"Clean drinking water and sanitation have a number of beneficial externalities. I propose to allocate Rs.15,260 crore to the ministry of drinking water and sanitation as against the revised estimate of Rs.13,000 crore in the current year," Chidambaram said in his budget speech.
He said there were still 2,000 arsenic and 12,000 fluoride-affected rural habitations in the country. "I propose to provide Rs.1,400 crore towards setting up water treatment plants," he said.
While the finance ministry had in 2012-13 budget proposed Rs.14,000 crore in the budget outlay for drinking water and sanitation ministry, it was scaled down to Rs.13,000 crore in the revised estimates.
The outlay for 2013-14 makes a provision of Rs.11,000 crore for the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) and the rural water supply sector, including Rs.1,100 crore for the northeast region and Sikkim.
The NRDWP, a flagship programme of the government, aims at ensuring safe and adequate drinking water supply through means such as piped water supply or handpumps to rural households.
The outlay also includes provision of Rs.4,260 crore for Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, including Rs.426 crore for the northeast region and Sikkim.
Projects under Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, earlier known as total sanitation campaign, have been launched in the entire country.