Jaipur: After a bitter war of words on the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP) now its Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) has put arch-rivals Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and union minister for Jalshkti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat face to face once again. Gehlot wants to extend the deadline for the completion of the JJM and wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for this, while Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has accused Gehlot of politicizing the issue of water and said ‘water should not be made a toolkit of politics.’
Water is a core issue for Rajasthan and it seems that both ERCP and JJM will become key election issues this time as both Gehlot and Gajendra Singh continue to take on each other on these issues.
Gehlot in his letter to PM Modi has cited many reasons including lockdown, supply of components, the war between Russia and Ukraine and difficult geographical conditions for the delay in completion of works under JJM in Rajasthan. ‘In the initial days, the pace of JJM was slow due to the lockdown from March 2020 to July 2020. Even in 2021, the work was partially affected from March to July due to Covid. The demand especially for steel, DI and HDPE pipes has increased rapidly. As a result, there has been instability in the supply of components,’ said Gehlot in his letter.
He wrote that looking at the difficult geographical conditions of the state it has become very challenging achieve the target and besides this, there has been an unexpected increase in the prices of many items due to the war between Russia and Ukraine. Looking at this the centre should extend the deadline of JJM till March 31, 2026, so that each family can get the benefit of this mission.
On the other hand countering the latter, the union minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said that the state was provided with all possible help including financial from the centre on time. water should not be made a toolkit of politics.
‘Instead of imposing your lethargy on the centre by writing a letter to the Prime Minister, you would have discussed it with me. I am also from Rajasthan, I know the condition of the desert just like you,’ said Shekhawat in his Tweet.
Shekhawat asked was the lockdown only for you? The speed of the mission is as per expectation in most of the states, why the delay in Rajasthan only? ‘ Water is a state subject and water distribution in Rajasthan is your responsibility,’ said Shekhawat.
It is to mention here that the progress of JJM is slow in the state as per the data available on the JJM dashboard only 13 per cent of houses in Rajasthan could be connected with tap water supply after the launch of the mission.