New Delhi: To provide every household with assured tap water supply on regular and long-term basis, Central Government allocated Rs. 6,998.97 Crore grant to West Bengal under Jal Jeevan Mission for the year 2021-22. The Central allocation for the year 2019-20 was Rs. 995.33 Crores, which was increased to Rs. 1,614.18 Crore in 2020-21. Union Minister, Jal Shakti Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat while approving the enhanced allocation, also assured full assistance to the State for provision of tap water supply to every rural home by 2024.
On 15th August, 2019 when Jal Jeevan Mission was announced by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to provide tap water supply to every rural home by 2024 to improve the lives of people especially women and girls, out of total 19.20 Crore rural households in the country, only 3.23 Crore (17%) had tap water connection. During last 21 months, despite disruptions due to Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, Jal Jeevan Mission has been implemented with speed and on a scale so that every household has provision of assured tap water supply by 2024. In this period, in the whole country, about 4.25 Crore households have been provided tap water connections, thus increasing coverage by 22% to presently 7.50 Crore i.e. 39% of the total rural households in the country.
At the time of announcement of Jal Jeevan Mission, out of 163.25 lakh rural households in West Bengal, tap water supply to home was limited to only 2.14 lakh rural home i.e. about 1%. In the last 21 months, in West Bengal 14 lakh households have been given tap water connections, thus coverage has increased by 8.58% to 9.90% against the national average of 39%.
In 41,357 villages and out of 1.63 Crore rural households, about 1.48 Crore rural homes are to be provided with piped water connection. In 2020-21, West Bengal provided 12.48 Lakh tap connections against a target of 55.58 Lakhs. Due to slow implementation and resultant poor utilization of fund, the State could not draw the full allocated amount. Now, the State has planned to implement Jal Jeevan Mission with speed to provide tap water connections to 43.10 Lakh rural homes in 2020-21 and 52.74 Lakh FHTCs in 2022-23 and 2023-24. To achieve these desirable targets the State has to speed up the implementation by four-fold.
In a meeting held recently with the State, the National Jal Jeevan Mission, Ministry of Jal Shakti reviewed the State’s Annual Action Plans and is helping the State to prepare a road map to make West Bengal, a ‘Har Ghar Jal’ State by 2024.
As a part of 100-days campaign launched on 2nd October, 2019, the State has started making provision of piped tap water supply in schools and anganwadi centres. In 2020-21, against the target of 75,137 schools and 91,076 anganwadi centres, it provided tap water connections to 10,046 schools (13%) and 6,430 anganwadi centres (7%). The supply of tap water in all learning and day-care centres needs to be ensured by the end of this year on priority to facilitate better health, improved sanitation and hygiene of the children.
There are 1,251 villages affected by Arsenic and Fluoride contaminations in drinking water sources in the State. The State has been advised to take up these villages on priority and ensure that either piped potable water is provided or purely an interim measure, community water purification plants (CWPPs) should be installed in these villages to provide Arsenic and Fluoride free drinking water at the rate of 8 -10 litres per person per day for drinking and cooking purpose.
West Bengal has 220 water quality testing labs. National Jal Jeevan Mission is pursuing with all States to upgrade all labs and get them accredited from NABL, open to general public so as people can get their water samples tested at a nominal cost. State Govt has informed that in next few months 138 water quality labs will get NABL accredited. State is also advised to empower local people especially women to test their water samples using Field Test Kits (FTKs) and bacteriological tests using Hydrogen Sulphide vials. The State PHED is also planning to conduct more quality tests at drinking water delivery points. The State has also been advised to prioritise and fast track tap water provisions in SC/ ST majority villages, JE-AES affected districts and drought prone areas to bring a qualitative change in lives of people especially belonging to poor and marginalized sections of society
Under Jal Jeevan Mission, in every village, a Village Water & Sanitation Committee (VWSC) comprising of 12–15 members to be formed with 50% women and suitable representation to weaker sections of society. As per available information, out of 41,357 villages in the State, such a committee has been formed only in 2,840 villages. To utilize 15th Finance Commission tied grant for water and sanitation, for every village, 5-years Village Action Plan co-terminus with 15th FC period is to be prepared, which will dovetail resources available under various schemes like MNREGS, JJM, SBM (G), DMDF, 15th FC tied grant, etc.
The State has been advised to constitute VWSC in every village and adopt a bottom up, decentralised, demand-driven, community-managed approach for planning and implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission. Five people preferably women like anganwadi workers, ASHA workers, members of self-help group, GP members, school teachers, etc. need to be trained in every village to test the quality of drinking water at the source as well as delivery points using Field Test Kits. Under Jal Jeevan Mission, skilling is a critical component for long term management, operation and maintenance of water supply system. The State is planning to train 9,830 pump operators, plumbers, electricians, motor mechanics and mason as well as 9,518 grassroots stakeholders and officials.
With a ‘bottom up’ approach, the Jal Jeevan Mission encourages the community to play a critical role in planning, implementation, management, operation and maintenance of the water supply systems in villages. Under the Jal Jeevan Mission, Goa, Telangana, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Puducherry has become ‘Har Ghar Jal’ i.e. all rural homes in these States/ UTs have piped water supply. Many other States are working with accelerated speed and commitment to achieve ‘Har Ghar Jal’ target before the national target of 2024. Now, every rural household in 62 districts and more than 90,000 villages have tap water supply.
Jal Jeevan Mission is creating new employment opportunities in villages and boosting the rural economy by investing more than Rs. 1 Lakh Crore this year in rural drinking water supply sector, including Rs. 50,000 Crore budget for Jal Jeevan Mission in 2021-22, matching resources from the State, and Rs. 26,940 Crore 15th Finance Commission tied grants for water and sanitation to RLBs/ PRIs.
With the much-enhanced Central allocation of Rs. 6,998.97 Crore, matching State share, outstanding balance of Rs. 757.59 Crores, and 15th Finance Commission tied grants, availability of the fund is not an issue for tap water supply to rural homes. It’s the time for the State to work with more speed in planning, implementation, operation, monitoring and management to provide tap water connections to each and every rural home.