Groundwork for providing tap water connections to rural households at very advanced stage: Official


PTI, Apr 3, 2022, 12:05 PM IST

The groundwork for providing tap water connections to the country’s rural households under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) is at a ”very advanced stage” and on track to meet the 2024 deadline despite the impact of COVID-19, a senior Jal Shakti ministry official said.

However, low functional tap water connection coverage in a few states is a matter of concern and the Centre is working with them to avoid any hiccups, said Vini Mahajan, secretary, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

Functional tap water connections are being provided to all rural households in the country under the government’s flagship JJM. The scheme aims to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections by 2024.

Mahajan said different states are progressing at a different pace but all have told the Centre that they are determined to meet the deadline.

”All states are committed to completing the mission by 2024. Different states started at different levels. Some were below the all-India level and that is impacting their current performance but even beyond that, there are a few states which are not yet close to the all-India reaches, which is a matter of concern,” Mahajan told PTI.

On Uttar Pradesh, which has the lowest rural tap connection coverage in the country at 13.46 per cent, she said the new state government has assured the Centre that it will deliver.

”UP has the greatest requirement of functional household tap connections. Two years of Covid have been problematic, all states have faced issues of lockdown, labour and price rise. We have been given a clear commitment by the new government of UP that they are fully geared up and that a lot of state work has happened and they will be able to deliver,” she said.

But the preparatory work for providing drinking water to every rural household is at a very advanced stage, Mahajan said.

”You are looking at the end point, you are looking at the tap connection in the household but before you reach there, you have to look at the source like tube wells, pipelines, making overhead reservoirs and after that water reaches a household… the preparatory work is at a very advanced stage,” she said.

”There is no shortage of funds and political will in the entire country and there is a lot of focus on it (JJM). So in the next two or two-and-a-half years, we are very hopeful that the number of functional household tap connections will quickly start showing up, she added.

Speaking about the impact of COVID-19 on the JJM, Mahajan said it was felt during the lockdown when almost all construction work came to a standstill.

There was a time when labour left construction sites and did not come back. Though projects had started, their actual performance was very low and limited. Then globally prices of iron and steel, and petroleum started rising, she said.

On the current status of the mission, Mahajan said in terms labour availability and work on sites, things are back to the pre-pandemic level but price rise is still an issue.

”There is still an impact and we are sorting out the issues but overall we are back on track in terms of projects being structured, tenders being given and implementation. So, things are looking up in the country but there are some underlying issues which are being sorted out,” she said.

Asked if it will be possible to meet the 2024 deadline, she said even though different states are progressing at a different pace, all of them have told the Centre that they are determined to do so.

”We are working with them to ensure that there are no hiccups and we are also strongly urging them to ramp up technical manpower because if you are working with speed, you also want to make sure that quality is not compromised,” she said.

Mahajan further said that there are two kinds of quality issues being looked at — there must be a tap connection and it should give water at the service level so there is a minimum of 55 litres per capita daily.

”The quality of water must be of BIS level, it must be available in a regular fashion. It is not expected to be (available) 24×7 but (if) it is going to come for two hours in a day, then people must know that these are the two hours when water would come, pressure of water must be there and sources should be such that water can be provided throughout the year,” she said.

”We are also looking at quality during the implementation phase so pipes must be of the prescribed standards and they must be weighed properly with proper earth cover,” she added.

Under the JJM, Goa, Telangana, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puducherry, Haryana and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu have achieved 100 per cent tap water coverage for rural households.

States like Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Rajasthan are among those with lowest functional household tap connection coverage which is below 25 per cent.

India’s coverage of rural households with tap water connections is 48.53 per cent.

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