The Big Picture: Ensuring Water Security
- 07 Jan 2020
- 13 min read
The Prime Minister recently released the operational guidelines for Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM). It is a Central government’s initiative to provide Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC), to every rural household i.e., ‘Har Ghar Nal Se Jal’ by 2024. Out of 17.87 crore rural households in the country, about 81.67% households are yet to have tap connections for water.
- The Scheme will be implemented through institutional mechanism at four levels- National, State, District, and Gram Panchayat, in which a major role will be played by women and the Paani Samitis or the user group.
- The total project is estimated to cost about ₹3.60 lakh Crore. The fund sharing pattern between the Centre and states is 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States, 50:50 for other states, and 100% for Union Territories.
Background of Jal Jeevan Mission
- The Central assistance to states for rural water supply began in 1972 with the launch of Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme.
- It was renamed as National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) in 2009, which is a centrally sponsored scheme with the aim to “enable all households to have access to and use safe & adequate drinking water within premises to the extent possible”.
Jal Jeevan Mission
- JJM will focus on integrated demand and supply-side management of water at the local level, including creation of local infrastructure for source sustainability like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household wastewater for reuse would be undertaken in convergence with other government programmes/schemes.
- The following kinds of works/schemes are to be taken up under JJM:
- In-village water supply (Piped Water Supply) infrastructure for tap water connection to every household;
- Reliable drinking water source development/augmentation of existing sources;
- Transfer of water (multi-village scheme- where quantity & quality issues persist in the local water sources);
- Technological intervention for water treatment to make water potable (where water quality is an issue, but quantity is sufficient);
- Retrofitting of completed and ongoing piped water supply schemes to provide FHTC and raise the service level (at the rate of 55 litres per capita per day);
- Greywater (any domestic wastewater produced, excluding sewage) management;
- Capacity building of various stakeholders and support activities to facilitate the implementation.
The salient features of the recently released guidelines are as follows:
- For the implementation of JJM, following institutional arrangement has been proposed:
- National Jal Jeevan Mission (NJJM) at the Central level;
- State Water and Sanitation Mission (SWSM) at State level;
- District Water and Sanitation Mission (DWSM) at District level; and
- Gram Panchayat and/or its sub-committees viz. Village Water Sanitation Committee (VWSC)/ Paani Samiti at Village level.
- Time-bound completion of schemes taken up under NRDWP has been proposed by providing FHTC to every rural household.
- The fund released by Central Government to the State Governments is to be deposited in one Single Nodal Account (SNA) that will be maintained by SWSM.
- The physical and financial progress of the mission will be monitored through Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) and fund utilization through Public Finance Management System (PFMS).
- Imbibing the spirit of the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution of India, Gram Panchayats or its sub-committees will play a crucial role in planning, designing, execution, operations and maintenance of the in-village infrastructure.
- Every village will prepare a Village Action Plan (VAP) which will have three components: i.) Water source & its maintenance ii.) Water supply and iii.) Greywater management.
- VAP will be aggregated at the district level to formulate the District Action Plan which will be aggregated at the state level to formulate the State Action Plan.
- State action plan will give a holistic view covering projects like regional grids, bulk water supply and distribution projects to address the needs of water-stressed areas ensuring drinking water security in the state.
- JJM envisages a structural change in the provision of drinking water supply services from present 'department-based construction or infrastructure development’ to ‘utility-based approach centered on service delivery’ so as to enable the institutions to function as utilities focusing on services.
- Ascertaining the availability and the quality using sensors based Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.
- For targeted delivery and monitoring of specific outcomes, every functional tap connection is to be linked with the Aadhar number of the head of the household subject to statutory provisions.
- Every asset created under JJM will be geo-tagged and 3-D contour mapping for slopes will be done. States will carry out Third-party inspection for all infrastructures created under the JJM before making any payment to instil accountability.
- Functionality assessment of the schemes implemented under JJM will be done by the Department/NJJM, based on which the fund will be made available to States/ UTs based on their performance.
Operationalization of the Scheme
- Background: Water being a subject mentioned in the State List, the guidelines were formed by the Centre in close consultation with the state governments.
- The government realized the fact that ‘One size fits all’ approach is not practically feasible in India and hence the key principles laid out have been made flexible.
- Objectives: The programme aims to raise the current coverage of tap water in rural households from 18-19% to 100% in the next 5 years by 2024.
- It was proposed to achieve this goal by 2030, coinciding with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. But through Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), it is set to be achieved by 2024.
- Mandatory source sustainability measures like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and other water conservation measures along with greywater management (including reuse) are proposed to be undertaken under it.
- Funds: Convergence with MGNREGA funds and grants under Finance Commission, State Finance Commission, District Mineral Development Fund (DMDF), MPLADS, MLALADS, or donations, etc. has been proposed so as to assess and pool the fund available for drinking water supply.
- This helps in preventing the creation of parallel water supply infrastructure deviating from the approved plan.
- ‘Rashtriya Jal Jeevan Kosh’ will mobilize and accept donations/contributions received from various sources to fund JJM.
- Implementation: At ground level, apart from the government there are two major players responsible for the implementation of the scheme:
- Role of Women: As observed in Swachh Bharat Mission, women here also will play a vital role from being beneficiaries to getting empowered and playing leadership. As per the guidelines, there has to be at least 50% representation of women in the Paani Samiti.
- Paani Samiti/User Group: It is a statutory committee of the Gram Panchayat. There was a dire need of community participation, ownership and contribution in all decisions pertaining to water supply systems. Therefore, community-led partnership along with States/ UTs to achieve the objectives of JJM will help in bringing long term sustainability in the sector.
- Integration: Earlier, water was institutionally fragmented into different ministries, but the creation of the Ministry of Jal Shakti integrated both aspects related to water resource management & sustainability and service delivery of drinking water & sanitation. However, much more can be achieved by the integration of different ministries like Environment Ministry, Ministry of Skill Development, etc.
- Complementary Schemes: Similar schemes viz., Atal Bhujal Yojana (for sustainable management of groundwater with community participation) will play a crucial role, as groundwater is an important component in JJM. Hence, it is an end-to-end integrated solution.
- Sustainability: Not only there is a need to ensure that every household has a water connection but also the availability of water in those taps.
- In India, there is a mismatch between water demand and water availability. By 2050, it is expected that this gap will get widened. Hence, the challenge of availability and sustainability needs to be addressed properly.
- Coverage: There are households located in the peripheral areas of the city (viz. the marginal population). The issue of supplying water to them either via pipes or through some decentralized mechanism needs to be appropriately thought of, as piped supply is not physically feasible in difficult terrain.
- Capacity Building: Also, state actors and policy-makers need to be properly trained for effective formulation and implementation of the water management strategies.
- Focus: There is a need to shift focus from water supply infrastructure creation to water management, viz. service delivery. There is a need to pay focussed attention and subsequent planning for the efficient usage of fresh water bodies.
- Management: Managing the demand side of water management is crucial as India cannot increase the per capita availability of water. The country needs to have a specific plan for water-stressed states.
- Participation: The participation of individuals, NGOs and different communities in the water management process is quite missing.
- The role of the Jal Shakti Ministry is thereby limited in handling the water crisis situation in the country until the coordination & participation of people is there for using the water prudently.
- Role of Government: The stress on water will increase with the rise in population, in that case, managing the demand for water, will become difficult. The Union Government on its part has created a Jal Shakti Ministry as a separate full-fledged ministry to address the water emergency in the country, but a lot more needs to be done.
The Government needs to holistically handle the supply as well as the demand side of water management and everybody in the society, i.e. government, citizens, NGOs, civil societies, etc. need to integrate and come together to tackle water crisis in the country.