Jal Jeevan Mission remains a Pipe Dream
Context: On Independence Day, 2019, the water-starved Mahoba district in south-eastern Uttar Pradesh reported only 1,612 households with tap connections.
Four years later, 1,29,209 households or about 98% of all rural homes in the district have water connections, according to the public dashboard of the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), the Centre’s ₹3.6 lakh crore scheme that aims to provide piped water to every village home by 2024.
However, a visit to some of the villages here suggests that a household certified as “connected” in JJM parlance does not always mean one with an actual water supply.
About Jal Jeevan Mission
- On 15th August 2019, PM Narendra Modi announced the Jal Jeevan Mission to bring tap water connections to every rural household of the country by 2024.
- The total cost of this mission is estimated to be around Rs. 3.6 lakh crores; out of this the share of the centre is around Rs. 2.08 lakh crores.
The broad objectives of the Mission are:
- To provide Functional Household Tap Connection(FHTC) to every rural household.
- To provide functional tap connection to Schools, Anganwadi centres, GP buildings, Health centres, wellness centres and community buildings
- To monitor functionality of tap connections.
- To promote and ensure voluntary ownership among local community by way of contribution in cash, kind and/ or labour and voluntary labour
- To assist in ensuring sustainability of water supply system
- To empower and develop human resource in the sector such that the demands of construction, plumbing, electrical, water quality management, water treatment, catchment protection,etc. are taken care of in short and long term
- To bring awareness on various aspects and significance of safe drinking water and involvement of stakeholders in manner that make water everyone's business
Examples of regions where Scheme has not been properly implemented
- Asthaun, a village with 420 households, gripe that only half the households have taps and no water actually flows through them. Noting that half the village is in a low-lying area so without a submersible pump, which “only the rich could afford”, water simply did not make it to most houses. The village is still reliant on groundwater from hand pumps for domestic drinking purposes.
- In Luhari village, whose 295 houses have all been marked as having ‘tap connections’, village pradhaan (head) stated that most of the houses have pipes, while the metal taps are present in a few houses.
- In the Kunata village all 185 households have been marked as having a household tap connection. However, the reality is that many houses do not even have the pipes, let alone the taps, that have been promised as part of the Har Ghar Jal scheme. Women here continue to walk to the several handpumps or to the village well to draw water.
- Water-scarce Mahoba has historically relied on lakes and ponds for irrigation, but the region’s rocky sub-surface means that perennial sources of groundwater are few. Mahoba administration has commissioned five large water treatment plants that will draw in water from some of the large reservoirs in the district, treat them, and then supply them as piped water to households. These treatment plants are in various stages of commissioning and the water is frequently tested for purity. If the water quality doesn’t meet standards, supply is stopped for cleaning.
The Har Ghar Jal initiative, part of the Jal Jeevan Mission was aimed to increase tap water access in rural India by replacing hand pumps but challenges like regular supply, perfect reporting, lack of localised backup system and reliability still persist. The need of the hour is to check the underlying issues and resolve them as soon as possible.
Imp for: UPSC Prelims, UPSC GS Mains Paper II
Topic: Government Schemes
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