22nd March Water Day special: Saving water, saving the planet!
By: Priyanka Saurabh
According to a 2018 report by NITI Aayog, 600 million Indians face extreme water scarcity and nearly two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water. By 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to double the available supply, indicating severe water scarcity for millions of people and a loss of ~6% to the country’s GDP. Studies also show that 84% of rural households do not have access to piped water, with over 70% of the country’s water being contaminated.
Jal Jeevan Mission envisages a supply of 55 liters of water per person per day to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) by 2024. It is under the Ministry of Jal Shakti. It was launched in 2019. It is a component of the government’s Jal Jeevan Mission to provide drinking water to every rural household by 2024. The scheme is based on a unique model, where water committees (Jal Samiti) of the villagers will decide what they will pay for the water they consume.
This initiative has a significant socioeconomic impact on rural and urban communities in India as access to clean and safe drinking water for better health can significantly improve people’s health. Waterborne diseases can spread in the absence of proper sanitation and a clean water supply. The tap water initiative will improve access to safe drinking water, which can reduce the incidence of waterborne diseases. With access to safe drinking water, people can spend more time on productive activities, such as farming, which is the main source of livelihood for many people in rural areas. This can lead to increased productivity and economic growth. The initiative is expected to improve the health and hygiene of rural households by providing safe and clean drinking water, thereby reducing the incidence of waterborne diseases.
Access to piped water supply will save time and effort for rural households, especially women, who have traditionally been responsible for collecting water from distant sources. Increased access to sanitation: The initiative will also increase access to sanitation facilities, as piped water supply can be used for household toilets. The initiative will reduce dependence on groundwater sources, which will help in conserving groundwater resources and contribute to overall environmental sustainability.
The Nal Se Jal initiative, which aims to supply piped water to every household by 2024, faces several challenges. The biggest challenge in implementing the tap water initiative is the lack of infrastructure in many areas, especially in rural areas. Building a piped water supply system requires significant investment in infrastructure, which includes pipes, pumps, and treatment plants. The initiative requires significant funding to build the necessary infrastructure, and the government may face challenges in securing sufficient funding for the initiative.
The success of the initiative also depends on the political will and administrative capacity to effectively implement the scheme at the local level. Ensuring the quality of water supplies is a significant challenge, as contamination and pollution of water sources can pose health risks and reduce the effectiveness of initiatives. The success of the initiative also depends on changing the behavior of people in terms of water usage, conservation, and sanitation practices. Some states may have inter-state disputes over sharing of water resources, which may hamper the progress of the initiative.
Climate change may affect the availability of water resources, and hence, the sustainability of the initiative. The mission is based on a community approach to water and includes extensive information, education, and communication as a key component of mission. JJM wants to create a mass movement for water, making it everyone’s priority. The fund-sharing pattern between the Center and States is 90:10 for Himalayan and North Eastern States, 50:50 for other States, and 100% for Union Territories.
Even after 70 years of independence, almost 50% of Indian people do not have access to drinking water. Different governments at the central and state level have worked for this, but the reality remains that the people of the country, especially women, have to walk miles to get drinking water. That’s why PM Modi announced Jal Jeevan Mission from Red Fort. Jal Jeevan Mission is implemented by the Ministry of Jal Shakti in partnership with the States. It aims to provide adequate drinking water of prescribed quality to every rural household in the country on a regular and long-term basis by 2024.
The central government has allocated Rs 3.6 lakh crore under the PM Jal Jeevan Mission. The PM has also expressed confidence in making India completely open and defecation-free (ODF). The Mission focuses on service delivery and not on infrastructure creation. Prime Minister Modi has credited various states, villages, and local bodies for making a strong campaign towards this. The Nal Se Jal initiative aims to supply piped water to every household in rural India by 2024. The initiative has a socio-economic impact and contributes to the overarching goal of universal access to water and sanitation.
The writer is a Research Scholar in Political Science,Poets, freelance journalist, and columnist.