The article highlights the challenges faced by the Indian government’s Har Ghar Jal initiative, the progress made in providing potable water connections, and the need for independent verification and certification to ensure accurate reporting.
What is the context?
The context is the Indian government’s Har Ghar Jal initiative. It aims to provide potable water connections to all rural households by 2024 under the Jal Jeevan Mission.
What is Jal Jeevan Mission?
The Jal Jeevan Mission aims to provide safe and sufficient drinking water to all rural households in India by 2024 through individual tap connections. The mission includes source sustainability measures like recharge and reuse through grey water management, water conservation, and rainwater harvesting. It emphasizes a community-based approach to water and places significant importance on information, education, and communication. The mission seeks to create a Jan andolan (people’s movement) for water, making it a priority for everyone.
Challenges Affecting Har Ghar Jal Initiative:
COVID-19 Pandemic and Supply Chain Disruptions:
The COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war caused delays and shortages of critical materials like steel and cement, affecting the manufacturing and connection of metal pipes.
Shortage of Skilled Manpower:
Many states struggled to find qualified personnel to construct tanks, cisterns, and water connections of acceptable quality, leading to delays and inefficiencies.
Some states, such as Rajasthan, faced challenges with actual water availability, while West Bengal and Kerala encountered water contamination problems, emphasizing the importance of ensuring water quality.
The target of providing tap connections to all rural households by 2024 is likely to fall short. The official expectation is that approximately 75% of households will be covered by March 2024 and 80% by December 2024. However, work has not even begun in around 5% of households, and completion may extend beyond 2025-26 in some areas.
Financial Outlay and Objectives of the Jal Jeevan Mission:
The Jal Jeevan Mission has a financial outlay of ₹3.60 lakh crore. The central government funds 50% of the cost. The mission aims to provide functional tap connections, delivering a minimum of 55 liters of potable water per person per day.
Discrepancies in Reported and Verified Connections:
Data shows that approximately 63% of rural households have tap connections. However, there is a significant gap between reported and verified connections. Only 58,357 out of nearly 1,68,000 villages reported as “Har Ghar Jal” have been certified.
Independent Verification and Certifications:
Independent mechanisms, such as surveys and expert appraisals, reveal that only 62% of households with water connections are fully functional. Certification involves gram panchayats uploading videos to verify connectivity claims.
Political Considerations and Certification:
Political factors influence certification decisions. States not reliant on central funds may choose not to publicize the Prime Minister and Chief Minister’s images. However, many states are recognizing the importance of certification.
Progress in States:
Progress varies across states. Uttar Pradesh has significantly increased tap connections, reaching 1.3 crore households. However, the number of certified villages remains low compared to reported figures.
The Har Ghar Jal initiative has made progress in providing tap connections to rural households, although it faces challenges and may fall short of its 2024 target. The government needs to address the remaining gaps, ensure water quality, and continue efforts to achieve its goals.
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