The States of Tripura and Sikkim presented their Annual Action Plans to provide tap water connection to the rural households before the committee chaired by Secretary, Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti . The national committee carries out thorough scrutiny of the proposed Annual Action Plan (AAP) prepared by States/ UTs before finalizing the same. Thereafter, funds are released in four tranches in the year based on physical and financial progress and regular field visits; review meetings are held to ensure implementation of the Annual Action Plan to achieve the goal of Jal Jeevan Mission. Both the States of Sikkim and Tripura face various challenges like difficult geographical terrain, poor connectivity, remote location of villages, lack of trained manpower to execute works, etc.
Tripura has around 8 lakh rural households, out of which 2.14 lakh (27%) households have tap water connections. State has planned to provide 100% tap connections to all rural households by 2023. The State has a good drinking water supply infrastructure and has water supply schemes in all 1,178 villages. In 2020-21, 1.42 lakh tap water connections have been provided. State plans to provide 3.8 lakh tap connections in 2021-22. By having 100% piped water supply system in all villages, it can capitalize on retrofitting/ augmentation of existing water supply systems to ensure every rural household has assured potable water supply, thereby improving the lives of people and bringing ‘ease of living’.
Sikkim, a tiny State nestled in the lap of Himalayas in north eastern India, has about 1.05 lakh households, out of which 81 thousand (77%) households have tap water connections. About 10,300 tap water connections were provided in 2020-21. State has planned to provide 100% tap connections in all households by the year 2021-22. The State also has a good water supply infrastructure and has water supply schemes in 411 villages.
In today’s meeting, the national committee stressed on the fundamental principles of the mission and States were urged to follow those in letter and spirit, so that every rural home gets safe drinking water on regular and long-term basis. Important aspects like need for preparation of Village Action Plans; as well as constitution of Village Water & Sanitation Committee (VWSC)/ Pani Samiti with minimum 50% women members that is responsible for planning, designing, implementing and operating & maintaining of in-village water supply infrastructure, were highlighted. All villages have to prepare Village Action Plans (VAP), which essentially comprises of water budgeting, development/ augmentation of drinking water sources, water supply, grey-water management and operation & maintenance aspect.
States to engage civil society organizations/ Voluntary Organisations/ SHGs as Implementation Support Agencies to extend handholding support to the Gram Panchayats and local village community in programme implementation. With works to be implemented in all villages, skill training to be organized for the local youth in plumbing, fitting, electrical works and masonry to create a cadre of trained manpower in villages, which will not only help in implementation of water supply infrastructure works, but also ensure regular operation & maintenance is being taken care of by local community. States need to launch IEC campaign about different aspects of water like water conservation, source strengthening, grey water management, water quality aspects and its link to individual health etc., so that Jal Jeevan Mission becomes a truly people’s movement.
It was highlighted that all drinking water sources need to be tested once for chemical parameters and twice for bacteriological contamination (pre and post monsoon) every year. Further, it was urged for training of at least 5 persons, preferably women, in every village for surveillance of water quality using field test kits (FTKs). Both the States were asked to complete NABL accreditation of all water quality laboratories in next few months.
Union Government’s flagship programme, Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) is under implementation in partnership with States since 15th August 2019. The objective of the Mission is universal coverage i.e., every family in the village gets tap water connection in their household. With focus on improving their living standard and enhancing their ‘ease of living’, the mission aims to ensure drinking water in adequate quantity, of prescribed quality and regular & long-term basis is provided to rural households through functional household tap connection.
In 2021-22, Rs. 50,011 Crore budget allocation has been made for Jal Jeevan Mission. Further, there is also Rs. 26,940 Crore assured fund available under the 15th Finance Commission tied-grants to RLBs/ PRIs for water & sanitation, matching State share and externally aided projects. Thus, in 2021-22, more than Rs. 1 lakh Crore is planned to be invested on ensuring tap water supply to rural homes. With this enhanced budgetary allocation, States are likely to get almost 2.5 times of central funds in 2021-22 vis-à-vis 2020-21. This kind of huge investment in villages will give a boost to manufacturing activities, create employment opportunities in rural areas as well as boost to rural economy.
Considering the prevailing CoVid-19 cases surge in the country, the National Jal Jeevan Mission is working continuously with States to ensure tap water connections provided to rural households, so that rural people, especially women and girls don’t have to go through the drudgery.