UDF attacks Left govt in Kerala over delay in Jal Jeevan Mission implementation

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jul 8 (PTI) The opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front on Monday criticised the Left government in Kerala over its alleged apathy with regard to implementing the Jal Jeevan mission in the state.

UDF MLA Anoop Jacob, part of the Kerala Congress (Jacob) group, sought a notice for adjournment motion in the Assembly and said the Jal Jeevan Mission, which was introduced to provide clean drinking water to rural communities, was being stalled in the state.

"Even now, people are lining up in many places for clean drinking water. Even though the government claims that new connections were given, at least six lakh water pipe connections have just air coming through them," Jacob alleged.

He also said the transparency of the project was also affected.

"The maintenance contractors of the water authority are also suffering. The department has yet to pay them for the past 19 months. At least 33 projects under the mission have been completely stopped. A majority of roads in the state are dug up and damaged in the name of this mission, and people are suffering," Jacob said.

However, Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine dismissed the charges and said the Jal Jeevan Mission was a huge project that was happening simultaneously across the state.

"A project worth Rs 44,000 crore is happening to provide clean drinking water to the people of the state. The project is not happening in just one panchayat or one constituency. At least 1,04,400 km of roads under panchayats and the PWD are being excavated for this purpose," Augustine said.

He further said, as of now, all houses in 92 panchayats have access to clean drinking water, while 100 more panchayats will join this list by December this year.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan rejected the claims of the minister and said the project, which began in 2019, was supposed to be completed within five years--in 2024.

"Of this project, which is worth over Rs 44,000 crore, only around Rs 9,730 crore has been spent till now. The government has not utilised the funds. The project is stalling...," Satheesan said.

He also said out of the Rs 9,730 crore, the Centre has given almost half of the amount.

Countering the arguments of the opposition, Augustine said when the mission started, there were only 17 lakh water connections, but in the last three years, 19 lakh more connections were given.

Augustine dismissed the opposition's claim that only 38.86 per cent of the project was completed.

"When we started, only 23.5 per cent houses had a water connection, which has now gone up to 54.5 per cent," the minister said.

Satheesan ridiculed this statement and said giving connections to 54 per cent of the houses was not enough. He said water supply through these connections should be ensured.

"When you have not identified the water sources to provide water connections, when you have not set up any purification system for drinking water connections, what's the point of claiming a high number of water connections," Satheesan asked.

In connection with the roads being dug up by the Water Authority in the name of Jal Jeevan Mission and failing to restore them, Augustine said out of the over one lakh km of roads, as much as 51,000 km has been restored until now.

"It is a massive project that is happening across the state, not just something that is happening at a particular place. We are coordinating with various departments, including the LSGD, PWD and the KSEB among others," the Minister said.

Based on the reply given by the Minister, Speaker A N Shamseer refused to allow notice for an adjournment motion, following which the opposition staged a walkout. PTI RRT RRT SS