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 administration’s second term.
The Modi government is almost replicating its successful 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 2014-19, the Centre built over 11 crore toilets in the country, which helped in achieving the zero open defecation status.
“The actual implementation started on 25th December, 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 bureaucrat tasked with the implementation of the ambitious scheme.
“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. This will help in better planning, implementation, management, operation and maintenance of drinking water supply systems in villages.