The government claims to have provided over 30 million such connections in the past one year.(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
The government claims to have provided over 30 million such connections in the past one year.(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

‘Community participation key to Jal Jeevan Mission success’

The Jal Jeevan Mission was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2019 with the aim of providing functional tap connections to every rural household in five years.
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 05:40 AM IST

Former Union water resource secretary Shashi Shekhar has raised concern over implementation of the Jal Jeevan Mission, cautioning against compromising with the fundamental features of the initiative to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual tap connections by 2024 to all rural households.

“The fundamentals of the project -- conception, design, implementation, operation and maintenance -- should be done by the {local} community,” Shekhar said at the virtual Hindustan Times Environment Conclave in a session on Jal Jeevan Mission: Clean water to every home.

The Jal Jeevan Mission was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2019 with the aim of providing functional tap connections to every rural household in five years. The government claims to have provided over 30 million such connections in the past one year.

“The figure suggests that the project is doing well. But my concern is if the programme is being implemented through government agencies, which it appears to be. If it is true, I have a concern over its sustainability. In the past, we have seen that such projects implemented by PHED or Jal Nigams did not last long, as they did not look into the availability of water in aquifers or if the aquifers needed to be rejuvenated or recharged. The local bodies or communities were just not involved.” PHED is short for public health engineering department.

“Even if we have to delay the implementation by a couple of years more, we should not compromise on the fundamentals of the mission,” Shekhar said.

The other expert on the panel, Professor Abhijit Mukherjee of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, said, “Most of the ground water earlier used was shallow water, which is possible to get replenished. But, as shallow water started falling, people went to deeper wells..{that} takes years to get replenished.” He also stressed the need for focusing on the quality of water.

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