Assam to provide 20.63 lakh tap connections in 2021-22

New Delhi: The State of Assam presented their Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) Annual Action Plan today via video conference with details of the plan for the financial year 2021-22 as well as a saturation plan for the whole State to provide tap water connection to every rural household. Assam has 63.35 lakh rural households, out of which 6.67 lakh (10.75%) are getting tap water supply. The State plans to achieve total saturation by the year 2024. Assam plans to provide 20.63 lakh household tap water connections and saturation of 2 districts in 2021-22. In 2020-2021, the State provided 4.76 lakh tap connections in rural areas. At present, the State has 256 ‘HarGharJal’ villages, and piped water supply is available to 7,897 Schools and 1,582 Anganwadi centres. State has been urged to ensure piped water supply in schools and AWCS at the earliest.

The extensive exercise of finalizing the Annual Action Plan (AAP) of States/ UTs under Jal Jeevan Mission is done by a national committee chaired by the Secretary, Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation, members from different Central Ministries/ Departments and NITI Aayog. Thereafter, funds are released throughout the year based on the progress and expenditure incurred. The detailed planning exercise is undertaken to help the State to achieve the goal of ‘HarGharJal’.

The Annual Action Plan emphasizes drinking water source strengthening/ augmentation, water supply works to provide household tap connections, greywater treatment & reuse, and operation & maintenance, various support activities including IEC plan, training of stakeholders, community mobilization, water quality surveillance and monitoring, strengthening of water testing laboratories and their NABL accreditation, etc.

In 2021-22, the State would get about Rs. 3,000 Central funds under Jal Jeevan Mission and was advised by the committee to make provision for matching State share and proper expenditure plan. Efforts to be made by the State to dovetail all available resources by the convergence of different programmes viz. MGNREGS, SBM, 15th Finance Commission Grants to PRIs, CAMPA funds, Local Area Development Funds, etc for effective utilization of funds at village level to ensure drinking water security in rural areas.

JJM is empowering the local village community as it is not just providing ‘ease of living’ to women and young girls who are primarily the water managers in every household but also enabling them to pursue education, learn different vocations, upgrade their skill and spend time with the family which was otherwise used to travel long distances to fetch water. Jal Jeevan Mission focuses on the preparation of the Village Action Plan (VAP) and the constitution of PaniSamiti for every village so that the local community plays a key role in planning, implementing, operating and maintaining the water supply infrastructure created for them. The State is planning skill training of 4,051 masons and plumbers in 2021-22. It was noted that Assam plans to prepare 15,287 Village Action Plans (VAPs) and constitute around 8,089 Village Water & Sanitation Committees (VWSCs) this year.

Under Jal Jeevan Mission, the local community is being encouraged for surveillance of water quality. PHE Department is facilitating to empower and engage with the community. For this, an action plan is carried out to incorporate activities like timely procurement and supply of field test kits to the community, identification of at least five women in every village for community engagement, training women on how to use the Field Test Kits and reporting the test result findings. Keeping in view the relevance of water testing & quality, State has planned 20,000 sanitary inspections in 2021-22. Further, the committee advised getting NABL accreditation of 38 labs (22 district level and 16 sub-division level labs) on urgent basis this year.

JJM is a flagship programme of the Union Government, which aims to provide tap water connection to every rural household by 2024. In 2021-22, in addition to Rs 50,011 Crore budgetary allocation for JJM, there is also Rs 26,940 Crore assured fund available under the 15th Finance Commission tied-grant to RLB/ PRIs for water & sanitation, matching State share and externally aided as well as State-funded projects. Thus, in 2021-22, more than Rs. 1 lakh Crore is planned to be invested in the country on ensuring tap water supply to rural homes. This kind of investment in rural areas will boost the rural economy.