The Vigilance and Anti- Corruption Bureau in Kerala has launched an impact study on the amounts of money spent on management and conservation of water in the state over the last two decades. The agency will study the budget schemes and its impact and performance for the last 20 years in connection with water conservation, drinking water, drought relief schemes, ground water recharge, check dams and so on. 'Water Vigil', an effective vigilance plan, would be brought out based on the output of the study to watch all further water-related schemes in the state, VACB sources here said. A recent directive, issued by Vigilance Director Jacob Thomas, said that the historical data of two decades' schemes for water will help in "trend analysis" and "to identify what went wrong in spending public money for water in Kerala." "Drought in Kerala, with 44 rivers, several lakes, lakhs of wells, ponds, trees and 300 cm rainfall, is man-made," it said. A huge amount had been earmarked in annual budgets during the period for maintaining water resources through wetland maintenance, rejuvenation of ponds, recharging of wells, planting of trees, water conservation, check dams, irrigation projects, social forestry and so on, it said. The money was spent through departments like Soil and Water Conservation, Water Resources, Kerala Water Authority, Agriculture, Forest, Ground Water, 'Jalanidhi', a project of Kerala Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency and Japan Drinking Water Project (JICP), it said. In the 2017-18 budget, presented by Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac in the recently concluded Assembly session, the amount earmarked for soil-water conservation was Rs 102 crore and for minor irrigation was Rs 208 crore. Similarly, Rs 413 crore was allotted for irrigation projects, Rs 600 crore for construction of 30 regulators, Rs 200 crore for check dams, Rs 250 crore for dam rehabilitation, Rs 15 crore for ground water development and Rs 8 crore for the renovation of ponds in the last budget, the VACB directive pointed out. "Rs 1058 crore has been earmarked in the Plan for drinking water, drinking water under Jala Nidhi, rural drinking water projects, JICA.
Rs 30 crore is earmarked for the disaster management activities, as drought is a man-made disaster in the state," it said. An investment of Rs 2064 crore was set apart through Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board for the rejuvenation of various schemes in respect of Water Authority in the last budget. A total of 55 crore was being allocated for the protection of natural forests, wetland and forest water sources in the areas of highest rainfall, it said, adding, that Rs 14 crore was earmarked for social forestry also. "Seeing this year's budget and last years' allocation, t it is necessary to probe why drought has become a problem in Kerala despite spending crores of rupees in various projects," the directive added.
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