State told to step up pace of Jal Jeevan Mission

The Centre has encouraged Kerala to step up the pace of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), the national-level programme which promises tap water supply to rural households, so that annual targets are met on time and 100% coverage is achieved as per schedule, Vikas Sheel, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti, and Mission Director, JJM, has said.

Kerala is one of seven States - and the only one in the south - where the reported coverage is still below the half-way mark as per the data with the Ministry. Under JJM, Kerala has added 13.12 lakh functional household tap connections (FHTC), taking the total coverage to 29.76 lakh rural households. This constitutes 42.11% of the 70.68 lakh households targeted by 2024, the national-level deadline.

Since the August 2019 national-level launch, Goa; Telangana; Haryana; Puducherry; the Andaman and Nicobar Islands; and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu have reported 100% coverage on the JJM portal. Punjab, Gujarat, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh crossed the 90% mark in implementation, Mr. Sheel told The Hindu over phone from New Delhi.

At the all-India level, coverage has risen to 51.89%, a little over nine-crore households. The 2022-23 target, he said, had been set at 4.7 crore households. With the 2024 deadline looming, the Centre urged States to ensure that approvals for the balance works were given by September 30 this year and tenders and clearances by December-end. In 2022-23, Kerala is hoping to add 32.96 lakh rural households to its tally.

''We had a special discussion with the Kerala team 15 days ago where we expressed our concern that a large amount of work is yet to be done, but they have informed us that whatever target has been set for this year, they are confident of achieving it,'' Mr. Sheel said.

The Centre is closely working with Kerala to remove impediments, such as those involving clearances from the National Highway Authority of India, Railways and other agencies, he said. Unlike many other States, Kerala did not have readily available groundwater resources, and faces salinity-related issues in the coast. Most of the water supply schemes in Kerala are Multi Village Schemes (MVS) and large schemes which take longer to execute, according to him.

''The encouraging thing is that Kerala has already planned for the balance connections. All plans and approvals are in place,'' Mr. Sheel said. The COVID-19 pandemic and the inflation-induced hike in cost of materials such as pipes had disrupted the work, but prices are likely to normalise in one or two months owing to interventions made by the Centre, he said.

At the national level, the Ministry had also launched the Har Ghar Jal Utsav to certify villages that had reported 100% status, Mr. Sheel said. ''It is one thing for the respective departments to report they have provided connections. Under Har Ghal Jal Utsav, grama panchayats must declare that all households have indeed got the connections, and that they have no quality issues. The campaign is generally to ensure that the progress that is reported on the (JJM) portal is the progress on the ground,'' he said.

Across India, 111 districts, 74,909 grama panchayats and 1.56 lakh villages have reported Har Ghar Jal (HGJ - water supply in every home) status. So far, one district, 9,464 panchayats and 12,349 villages have been certified in this regard. In Kerala, 18 panchayats and 31 villages have reported HGJ status, while four panchayats and six villages have been certified.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 6:52:18 pm |