General Budget speech on Water Resources

The Union Government‟s Budget of 2014-15 has taken some considerable measures. The Accelerated Irrigation benefits and flood management programme has received Rs.8,992 crore; the Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojana has received Rs.1,000 crore; budget allocated to the North East has been Rs.1,474 crore. So far as Ganga is concerned, Ganga is one of the holiest rivers in the world. But is also a fact that there are 250 industries, which dump their pollutants on this river. So, we have collectively failed to address the issue of Ganga. Since 1985, various Ganga conservation projects have taken place whether it is the Ganga Action Plan No.1, Ganga Action Plan No.2, the National Ganga River Basin Authority. Close to Rs.7,000 crore has been spent and 1,441 sewage treatment plants have been made. So, I would urge the Government that before it embarks upon another huge Mission, there should be a careful assessment of what has worked in the past and what has not worked. So far as rejuvenation of the Ganga is concerned, we must ensure that this process is democratic and involves that voices of all the stakeholders. I am saying so because in the recently held Ganga Manthan democratic processes and stakeholders‟ consultations have been ignored. I want to say that it is unclear as to what is the objective of this Government when it comes to the Ganga. They talk about inland water transport and, at the same time, they talk about beautification of ghats. All of this is not possible because when you have large-scale industrial projects, how can you ensure that the Ganga will remain `nirmal‟. The Budget has also not indicated what steps will be taken to clean the River Ganga. With its large focus on the River Ganga, my concern is that other functions of the Ministry of Water Resources have been diluted or severely compromised. As it has been said that this is a drought year, the western States of India will receive minimal precipitation. But this Union Budget has not indicated any measures as to what the Government will do in such a scenario. On Dam Safety Studies, this Budget has given `zero‟ money. Though the Government has announced the scheme of Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Management of Rs.8992 crore but there are several areas in Assam and West Bengal where the ground-water is contaminated. In such a situation, I want to know what this Government has done for ground water contamination. This Ministry has forgotten to care of other rivers of the country. For instance, it has forgotten that lakhs of land in Assam have been lost due to erosion by the river Brahmaputra. I urge all MPs across the political lines that we must tell this Government that we need to hold and constitute a Brahmaputra River Valley Authority to solve this issue. There has been a lot of concern that China is constructing a lot of hydro-power projects on the river Brahmaputra. In order to protect our water security, we must ensure that the projects on river Brahmaputra are completed on time.