Last August India's Prime minister Modi announced in his Independence Day Speech the allocation of Rs 3.6 trillion ($50 billion) to the Jal Jeevan Mission, the government’s ambitious programme to provide piped water to all households in the country by 2024, informs The Hindu Business Line.
Last Saturday, Minister of Finance, Nirmala Sitharaman, presented the Union Budget 2020 in Parliament; the current budget allocation to the scheme will be Rs 115 billion ($1.6 billion), 15% more than in the previous budget. The remaining funds would be released in the coming years.
The scheme also focuses on increasing local water sources, recharging existing sources, and will promote water harvesting and desalination. Minister Sitharaman said cities with a population greater than one million will be encouraged to meet this objective in the current year. ‘Water stress related issues are now a serious concern across the country’, she said in her speech.
The main source of drinking water in India is groundwater, and over-exploitation is a major problem nationwide. In the 2018 Composite Water Management Index report, the government’s think tank NITI Aayog warned that ‘India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods are under threat. Currently, 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress’.
The budget allocation is good news for water sector companies, who will see their sales go up. Bloomberg reported a 4.9% increase in shares for Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd., a manufacturer of micro-irrigation products and plastic pipes, at the close in Mumbai, the highest since Dec. 26. Likewise, Shakti Pumps India Ltd., a producer of steel submersible water pumps, rose by 20%, the most since Sept. 27. ‘The people who will be gaining the most are manufacturers of water pipes, water fittings and water meters’ stated M.S. Unnikrishnan, CEO of Thermax Ltd., a business that also works with water treatment plants.