In PM Modi’s water guarantee plan, expect 55 litres/day per person
The water fund will likely be modelled on the lines of a similar one for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the national sanitation scheme, called the Swachh Bharat Kosh.
The Narendra Modi government is likely to fix a threshold limit of assured household water supply and also set up a dedicated fund for its ambitious mission to provide piped water to every rural Indian household by 2024, officials familiar with the matter said.
The water fund will likely be modelled on the lines of a similar one for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the national sanitation scheme, called the Swachh Bharat Kosh. The Swachh Bharat Kosh had been set up to channel philanthropic contributions and corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds towards the cause of sanitation. The water fund is likely to be called Rashtriya Jal Jeevan Kosh.
Officials are giving finishing touches to the modalities of “Nal Se Jal” (water from taps), which entails providing potable water to households. The scheme will then be put before the Cabinet for approval. The proposals include assured water supply in the range of 43-55 litre per capita per day (LPCD), depending on the season, with a lower limit being proposed for lean periods, officials involved in the process told HT.
Piped drinking water to rural households is a critical component for achieving universal access to safe drinking water in a country where, in 2015, 163 million Indians lacked access to clean water, the highest for any country, according to the NGO WaterAid.
A key benchmark is that piped water supply at 55 LPCD under normal conditions should be available within household premises or at a distance of not more than 100 metres from the house.
A sizeable chunk of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) budget will go towards the Jal Jeevan mission, the government’s overall programme to conserve water and augment supply.
The mission’s priority is to alleviate the water crisis in 254 severely water-stressed districts of the country.
The government has also set a deadline of March 2020 by which it expects to complete the mapping of all water sources and aquifers in these districts.
Initial estimates, officials said, are that nearly ~1 lakh crore from MGNREGS might be required for supply-side management, which involves restoring water bodies and canals.
Currently, the job scheme earmarks more than 60% of its funds for water-related works.
In the current financial year, almost 1.9 million persondays, out of a total of 2.58 billion estimated persondays of work under NREGS, will be used for water and agriculture-related works.
In 2014, months after coming to power, the Modi government announced a Swachh Bharat Kosh to allow individuals, philanthropists and CSR funds to contribute to the efforts to achieve the objective of “clean India” (Swachh Bharat).
An official in the rural development ministry said that there will be a lot of convergence between the work done by the rural ministry on water body restoration and the supply of water for Nal Se Jal.
“The water conservation projects funded and undertaken in MGNREGS will provide the base for the Nal Se Jal scheme,” a senior rural ministry official said.
The Jal Shakti ministry aims to provide piped drinking water to 19.5% of rural households during 2019-20 under the Jal Jeevan mission, according to targets set in the Budget 2019-20, a second official said.
Experts say implementation gaps in the rural water mission should serve as a cautionary tale, as targets have been routinely missed.
“There has been a huge gap between the government’s stated objectives and actual delivery in the rural drinking water scheme,” said Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People.
According to a 2018 Comptroller and Auditor General audit of rural piped water project, “poor execution of work” resulted in “work remaining incomplete, abandoned or non-operational as well as unproductive expenditure on equipment with a financial implication of ~2,212.44 crore”.
In 2018-19, just 18.2% of rural households could be provided access to piped water supply under the National Rural Drinking Water Mission , the predecessor to the Jal Jeevan Mission. This is way short of the missed 2017 target of covering 35% rural households.