Only half of government schools, anganwadis have tap water supply

Representational image   | Photo Credit: DEEPAK KR

Only half of government schools and anganwadis have tap water supply, despite a 100-day campaign for 100% coverage being launched by the Jal Shakti Ministry in October 2020, according to information provided to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources.

Less than 8% of schools in Uttar Pradesh and 11% in West Bengal have it, while it is available in only 2-6% of anganwadis in Assam, Jharkhand, U.P., Chhattisgarh and Bengal.

At a time when schools and anganwadis are just starting to reopen after a yearlong shutdown, COVID-19 safety protocols require repeated handwashing by students and teachers. In its report on the demand for grants submitted to the Lok Sabha on Monday, the Standing Committee urged the Ministry to take up the matter with laggard States.

The campaign to provide potable piped water supply for drinking and cooking purposes and tap water for hand washing and in toilets in every school, anganwadi and ashramshala or residential tribal school was launched on October 2, Gandhi Jayanti. The 100-day period should have ended on January 10, 2021. However, as of February 15, only 48.5% of anganwadis and 53.3% of schools had tap water supply, the Ministry told the Parliamentary panel.

Only half of government schools, anganwadis have tap water supply

Seven States — Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Punjab — achieved 100% coverage. A number of other States also made significant progress in that time, and 1.82 lakh grey water management structures and 1.42 lakh rainwater harvesting structures were also constructed in schools and anganwadi centres. “However, some States/ UTs have indicated that they need more time to complete the task and sustain the efforts. Therefore, the campaign has been extended till March 31, 2021,” the Ministry said.

The panel noted that “children are more susceptible to water borne diseases, more so, when there is also a need for repeated washing of hands as a precautionary measure during the pandemic”.

“Considering the health hazards in the children on account of lack of potable drinking water, the Committee urges the Department to take up the matter with those States which are lagging in providing drinking water and toilet facilities in their schools and anganwadi centres,” said the panel adding that the Centre should also take measures to set up water purification or reverse osmosis (RO) plants on an urgent basis so that children do not suffer due to contamination of drinking water.

In a broader comment on the flagship Jal Jeevan Mission, which aims to provide tap water to every rural household by 2024, the Standing Committee noted that “mere provision of tap connection without ensuring assured availability of water in the pipeline would not serve the purpose and will defeat the very objective of JJM”. It called for real-time monitoring of water supply at the district level. “The Committee finds from their collective experience and ground reality that there are instances galore, wherein taps are being fitted but water supply is not there,” it said.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 4:44:18 AM |

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