Uma Bharti defends expenditure on Ganga meet

New Delhi, Nov 7: Water Resource Minister Uma Bharti on Friday defended the expenditure of nearly Rs 44 lakh on a Clean Ganga meeting, saying the money went to a government agency for organising the event and had not gone waste.

"We will organise more such programmes. We ensure government money goes back to the government and does not go waste. This money went to Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and ITDC is a government body. No private agency organised it," she told reporters to a question on the sidelines of a programme.

Clean Ganga initiative is a dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government has announced the setting up of an Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission with an initial sum of Rs 2,037 crore.

The government had reportedly, in a reply to an RTI query, stated that Rs 43.85 lakh has been spent on a meeting on the issue at Vigyan Bhawan in the capital in July. A

ccording to the information, amount spent on meetings and accommodation of guests coming for the meeting was close to Rs 26.7 lakh, while the money spent on officials' travel was Rs 8.8 lakh.

The amount spent on advertising the event was Rs 5.1 lakh. Inaugurating the National Convention of Presidents of Water Users’ Associations, Bharti, who is in charge of the Ganga rejuvenation programme, said she has already visited about 25 canals connecting Ganga in Varanasi and has initiated work on redeveloping some of them.

She said availability of water for utilisation needs to be augmented to meet increasing demands through efficient use of water in all the sectors and sought "increased involvement of the society and participatory approach in harnessing and conserving water resources".

"Our aim is to see that every agricultural field in the country will have irrigation facility in the next ten years," she said.

Bharti in particular referred to the successful water harnessing and conservation programme in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh and hailed the water conservative initiatives undertaken by Narendra Modi during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat.

"Gujarat and MP are developed states today because they have been able to harness the water resource properly," she said.

She also rejected the contention that there would be "wars" over water, saying such a situation should never arise and that water should should be a source of promoting harmony in the society.

"Some neighbouring countries met me with such concerns and I assured them that water will be a source of maintaining peace and friendship," she said.


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