Jal Jeevan Mission: 52% rural households covered, tap water mission in key phase

Aug 19, 2022 11:40 PM IST

On Friday, India achieved a major landmark, when PM Modi announced the programme’s coverage had touched 100 million homes.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Jal Jeevan Mission in 2019, an ambitious programme to put piped water in all of India’s roughly 192 million rural households by 2024, only about one-sixth had the luxury of doorstep-water supply. Now, 52% have it.

Jal Jeevan Mission: 52% rural households covered, tap water mission in key phase
Jal Jeevan Mission: 52% rural households covered, tap water mission in key phase

In a severely water-stressed country, another landmark came on Friday when Modi announced the programme’s coverage had touched 100 million homes. On July 22, HT was the first to report that milestone is likely to be crossed during August 2022.

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Also Read | 100 million houses now have tap water: Modi hails landmark

The Prime Minister’s announcement on Friday came during his address via videconference at an event in Goa to mark 100% piped water supply coverage in rural households of the state

But the pace of the next half of the programme’s progress will be critical to meeting its national deadline, as complex engineering hurdles in some of the most challenging terrain will need to be overcome.

The scale at which states work to provide piped drinking water to the remaining roughly 92 million households is the key, because implementation is squarely in the hands of states.

Financial commitments of states matter too. The Union government has earmarked a staggering 3.5 lakh crore for the mission. The fund-sharing pattern between the Centre and states under the mission is 100% for Union territories (UTs) without legislature, 90:10 for north-eastern states and UTs with legislature, and 50:50 for all other states.

“It’s question of will. States should not face any financial constraint going forward because they have an additional fund to dip into,” said Raja Ram Moria of Dewas-based Samaj Pragati Sahayog, a water-conservation NGO.

This is the 26,900 crore assured fund available under the 15th Finance Commission as grants to rural local bodies precisely for water and sanitation projects.

India has had public programmes for drinking water before, such as the National Drinking Water Mission launched in 1986. But the goal of providing piped water to every rural household has got a special impetus under the Modi government.

Among many landmarks, the programme has so far linked 84.2% of all government schools in the country — 865,000 — with a tap water connection, while 80% of anganwadi centres (894,000) have been covered, according to official data.

Nearly 30,000 engineers and officials, and thousands of contractors and labourers are engaged in a mission that will involve, in all, laying of nearly 4 million km of pipelines.

A national study by the Union health ministry has found improvements in health outcomes in places with access to clean water supply, said Vini Mahajan, secretary, department of drinking water and sanitation at the ministry of Jal Shakti.

According to numbers reported by the National Centre for Disease Control, cases of water-borne diseases have come down 66%, from 17.7 million to 5.9 million between 2019 and 2021 in areas provided with clean drinking water.

In 117 aspirational districts, where development indicators have been historically poor, 47% households now have tap water, up 40% since 2019.

Punjab, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar are among states with over 90% coverage and fast progressing towards their targets. Telangana, Goa, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu have already achieved their targets.

Yet data shows that progress has been skewed. Coverage across Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand is still below 25%, while states such as Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan are among 13 lagging states which are now categorised as “focus states”.

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    Zia Haq reports on public policy, economy and agriculture. Particularly interested in development economics and growth theories.

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