The Hindu

‘Jal Jeevan adds 1 lakh water connection­s daily’

3 crore houses covered in first year, says official

- Mahesh Langa

Since its launch in August 2019, the Centre’s ambitious flagship scheme Jal Jeevan Mission ( JJM), which in partnershi­p with the States seeks to ensure that every rural household of the country gets assured drinking water supply by 2024, has achieved 32.3% coverage of tap connection­s in rural India, emerging as a key scheme in the Narendra Modi government’s second term.

The Modi government is almost replicatin­g the implementa­tion of its flagship scheme of building toilets in the first term in providing tap water connection­s to every rural household in the country in its second term. In its first term from 2014 to 2019, the Centre reportedly built over 11 crore toilets in the country.

“The actual implementa­tion started on December 25, 2019 with the release of operationa­l guidelines for the implementa­tion of Jal Jeevan Mission. In almost a year, despite COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown as well as restrictio­ns, more than 3 crore households have been provided with tap water connection­s,” said Director of JJM Bharat Lal, a top official tasked with the implementa­tion of the ambitious scheme.

32.3% coverage

“With this, as of now, 6.15 crore (32.3%) households of the country are getting tap water supply into their homes. Every year, more than 3 crore households are to be given tap water connection­s. This is the speed and scale on which the mission is being implemente­d,” he added.

“Almost 1 lakh new connection­s are getting added on daily basis. The State government­s have taken this very seriously and have focused their efforts on its [the scheme’s] delivery,” Mr. Lal, a Gujarat-cadre Forest Service officer, told The Hindu.

According to him, there are many challenges in implementi­ng the scheme nationally. Out of a total of 731 districts, 256 districts and 1,592 blocks have been classified as water-stressed or drought prone.

“The State government and local bodies (panchayats) will also have to protect the source of water to be supplied to the households. The government has emphasised protecting local water bodies to be used as a source for supply,” he said.

To ensure its implementa­tion without any funding crunch, in 2020-21, a sum of ₹23,500 crore has been allocated for the implementa­tion of the JJM. Besides this, in 2020-21, 50% of 15th Finance Commission Grants to Rural Local Bodies, that is, ₹30,375 crore as a tied grant, will be utilised for water supply and sanitation.

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