New Delhi: Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat held discussion with Chief Minister of Kerala, Shri Pinarayi Vijayan regarding implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in the State through video conferencing today. The flagship programme aims to provide household tap connections in rural areas of the country with focus on improving the lives of people. Potable water in adequate quantity and of prescribed quality to be provided to every rural household on regular and long-term basis, for which the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) is under implementation in partnership with States. The objective of the mission is universal coverage i.e. every family in the village gets tap water connection in their households.
Kerala has planned to provide tap connections to every rural household by 2023. Out of total 67.15 lakh rural households, the State is making efforts to achieve the target of 21.42 lakh FHTCs in 2020-21. In 2019-20, against a target of 10.10 lakh rural households, State could provide tap connections to only 85,476 households.
It was pointed out in the meeting that in all those villages where water supply systems exist, tap connections are to be provided to the remaining households, a majority of which are households belonging to poor, marginalized sections of the society. Chief Minister, Kerala was requested to launch a ‘special campaign’ to provide tap connection to every such household in next 3-4 months, so that ‘no one is left out’.
In the meeting, Union Minister Shri Shekhawat discussed the performance and fund utilization status. Last year, the State was provided ₹101.29 Crore as grants-in-aid. However, State could utilise only ₹62.69 Crore. About ₹41 Crore central fund was lying unutilised with State at the year end. There was also a shortfall of 44 Crores in State share. In 2020-21, ₹404.24 Crore has been allocated for the State. With an opening balance of ₹41.18 Crore and Central release of ₹72.16 Crore, State has a total available fundof₹113.34 Crore. In last 4 months, only ₹19.47 Crore of Central fund and Rs 18.59 Crores of State share have been utilized. Therefore, the CM was requested for speedy implementation of the mission as well as ensuring timely release of central and state share to implementing agencies, so that works do not get adversely affected.
Besides, Kerala has been allocated ₹1,628 Crore as 15 th Finance commission grants to PRIs and 50% of it is to be used for water supply and sanitation. Central minister requested the CM to plan for utilizing this fund for rural water supply, grey-water treatment and re-use and most importantly for ensuring long-term operation and maintenance of water supply schemes.
Taking note of the issues, the Chief Minister assured to expedite the efforts for a time-bound implementation of the mission to achieve the target by 2023. Kerala is a role model for all other States especially when it comes to human development indices. Being a leader in decentralised planning and with strong PRI system, State has immense potential to successfully implement this decentralized, demand-driven and community-managed programme. Union Minister expressed happiness that the State has incorporated community-based planning exercises wherein about 700 Gram Panchayats have finalized their action plans.
Besides, testing of drinking water to assess quality is very important especially testing for biological contamination during monsoon. Strengthening/ upgradation of drinking water laboratories in the State and opening them for the public to get their water samples tested at a nominal rate may be made a priority.
Union Minister further emphasized on preparation of village action plans as well as constitution of village water and sanitation committee as a sub-committee of Gram Panchayat with minimum 50% of women members, responsible for planning, designing, implementing and operating & maintaining of in-village water supply infrastructure. All villages have to prepare Village Action Plan (VAP) which essentially will comprise of development/ augmentation of drinking water sources, water supply, grey-water treatment & re-use and operation and maintenance of water supply systems.
Training for imparting skills to local people in masonry, plumbing, electrical, pump operation, etc. to be launched to ensure that skilled human resources will be made available for water supply related works and their operation and maintenance. Further, rural water supply related works will also provide opportunity to engage migrant returnees.