Concern about fate of people-friendly aspects of water supply


1.5 lakh public taps in panchayats are likely to get plugged

While the Centrally assisted Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), soon to be rolled out in the State, is expected to give a fillip to piped water coverage in rural Kerala, it has also sparked apprehension about the fate of certain people-friendly aspects of water supply such as public taps.

All ongoing or proposed rural water supply schemes, those of the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) and Jalanidhi included, would converge with the JJM once the Central initiative aimed at providing tap water to all rural households by 2024 is rolled out in the State.

Water connections

With JJM support, the State Water Resources Department hopes to add 55 lakh water connections over a five-year period. Of 85 lakh households in the State, only about 22-23 lakh have piped water supply.

The Centre is expected to publish guidelines for the implementation of the JJM shortly, Water Resources Minister K. Krishnankutty told The Hindu on Monday.

Mr. Krishnankutty said that the State had sought central assistance to the tune of ₹33,300 crore implementing JJM-related schemes over the five-year period.

“We have submitted a memorandum in this regard to the Centre. Further, the department has identified 128 incomplete water supply projects in the state where pump houses and tanks are ready. The projects are idling merely because distribution pipelines are not laid. These projects can be completed under JJM-linked works,” he said.

Public taps

Reportedly, 1.5 lakh public taps in panchayats across Kerala are likely to get plugged with the emphasis shifting to functional household tap connections (FHTC) under JJM.

The calculation being that one public tap equals five families, and by scrapping the taps, KWA would be able to add 7.5 lakh household connections to help it meet connection targets. Preliminary discussions have been held in this regard, it is understood.

On the one hand, there is the argument that public taps are prone to widespread misuse, but on the other, they have proven indispensable in drinking water-scarce regions such as the coasts. Moreover, there is also the question of expenses borne by consumers when applying for water connections.

Mr. Krishnankutty said no decision had been finalised with respect to abolishing public taps. “At the same time, we are also examining whether connections can be given first and costs recouped in instalments in the water bill. The important aspect in providing household connections is sustainability in the supply of water,” Mr. Krishnankutty said.

The Water Resources Department will be closely working with the Local Self Government Department for the roll-out of JJM in the State.

For the smooth implementation of JJM in the State, the Water Resources has also formed a 10-member special cell headed by a deputy chief engineer.

The cell will serve as an ad hoc technical support unit for the implementation of JJM until a State Water and Sanitation Mission (SWSM) is formed, the department said in an October 4 order.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 5:13:50 PM |

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