State struggling to meet JJM target

The State is struggling to meet the water connection targets for 2021-22 under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), the Centrally assisted rural water supply initiative.

With just two months left in the fiscal, the State is nowhere near achieving the objective of 29.38 lakh functional household tap connections (FHTCs). A recent assessment by the Kerala Water Authority (KWA), which is leading the implementation in the State, has revealed that only 5.56 lakh connections have been issued till January 20, 2022.

A senior KWA official blamed COVID-19 for the slow pace. Noting that urgent action is needed if all rural households are to be provided connections by 2024, the KWA has issued orders appointing 'charge officers' to monitor the progress of the drive at the divisional level. The officers also include senior staff of the KWA such as the technical member and chief engineers.

Implemented on a 50:50 cost-sharing basis by the Centre and the States, the JJM envisions individual tap connections in all rural households in the country by 2024.

In Kerala, JJM projects were launched in April 2020, one year after the rollout by the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti. At the time of the Kerala launch, only 17.5 lakh of the 67.15 lakh rural households in the State had piped water supply. The State government hopes to cover the remaining households by 2024.

The State had fallen way short of the target in 2020-21 also; only 4.04 lakh connections could be given against the targeted 21.42 lakh. Consequently, the target for 2021-22 was pegged at a steep 29.38 lakh connections, which included the backlog.

''Out of this, only 5.56 lakh connections have been provided till January 20, 2022. At present, only 38% of rural households could be covered with FHTCs. Hence, urgent action on a war-footing is required to cover the remaining 62% households. Effective team work and close monitoring of works are required to achieve the goal of 100% coverage by 2024,'' the KWA noted in a January 22 order appointing the charge officers.

''The pandemic is the main reason for the shortfall. Many of our staff have tested positive. Contractors are also finding it difficult to mobilise their workforce. But we are trying to speed up the work wherever possible,'' Sreekumar G., technical member, KWA, said.

Monitoring the progress of the work aside, the charge officers are tasked with sorting out issues related to land, road cutting and deployment of workforce. In May 2021, the Centre had urged the State to give priority to ongoing/completed schemes of the erstwhile National Rural Drinking Water Programme that could be retrofitted/augmented to provide FHTCs.

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 4:11:52 pm |