Within ten months of its inception the 'Jal Jeevan Mission' has made tap water available in 66% of schools, 60% of Aanganwadi centres, and 69% of gram panchayats and community healthcare centres (CHCs) in rural India, the Union ministry of Jal Shakti claimed.
The ministry also informed that despite the pandemic, the mission achieved a 100% success in delivering clean tap water to all schools and Aanganwadi centres in nine states and a Union Territory.
“In less than ten months since the launch of this campaign, tap water has been made available in 6.85 lakh (66 per cent) schools, 6.80 lakh (60 percent) Anganwadi centres and 2.36 lakh (69 per cent) Gram Panchayats and Community Healthcare Centres (CHCs) for drinking and cooking mid-day meal, 6.18 lakh schools have tap water in toilets/urinals and 7.52 lakh schools have tap water for handwashing facility", said a statement from the ministry.
The statement also named the states and UT which achieved 100% success in providing clean tap water to the grassroots. “In Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, and the Union territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, provision of clean tap water supply in all schools, ashramshalas (residential schools), and anganwadi centres has been made," the ministry’s statement said.
The issue of clean drinking water to Anganwadi centres, Ashramshaalas, and schools gained fresh momentum when the Indian Government launched this campaign of ensuring clean tap water supply to these institutions on October 2, 2020. This was to be a 100-day campaign to achieve 100% coverage, and provide potable piped water supply for drinking and cooking purposes as well as tap water for hand washing and in toilets in every school, anganwadi, and ashramshala or residential tribal school.
On the independence day of 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 'Jal Jeevan Mission' which aimed at ensuring piped water supply to every rural household by 2024. The Rs 3.60 lakh crore worth mission aims at working with the states to ensure its success. The formation of Jal Shakti Ministry was announced in July 2019 to address water related issues in the country.
Jal Shakti Ministry states the objective of this mission as, "providing Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) to every rural household by 2024. The programme focuses on service delivery at household level, i.e. water supply on a regular basis in adequate quantity and of prescribed quality on a regular and long-term basis."
The Jal Jeevan Mission is based on a community approach to water. According to the Government, the mission will include information, education, and communication as key components. The mission is meant to create a people's movement for water, making it everyone’s priority.
The ministry in its statement also talked about the advances made in the sector since the commencement of the mission.
“On 15 August 2019, at the time of launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission, out of 189.8 million rural households in the country, only 32.3 million (17%) had tap water connections. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown disruptions, Jal the Jeevan Mission provided 45.7 million tap water connections in the last 23 months. As a result, today (till July 17), 78 million (41.14%) households have tap water supply. Goa, Telangana, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Puducherry have achieved 100% household connections in rural areas and have become ‘Har Ghar Jal’", the statement added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also acknowledged the advances made in the past two years in providing rural households with clean tap water. On the independence day of 2020, he addressed the issue standing in front of the Red Fort, "today, I am happy to share that every day we are able to provide piped water connection to over one lakh households. And in the last one year, we have been able to provide tap water to 2 crore families, especially to the tribals living in the forests and far-flung areas. A huge campaign has been launched. And I am glad that today ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ has created an environment of healthy competition in the country. There is a healthy competition among the districts, among the cities, and also among the states. Everyone is hoping that the Prime Minister’s dream of ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ is accomplished at the earliest in their respective areas."
India, like many other countries in the world, is feeling the heat of Climate Change. Due to immense population and better access because of improving technology, the groundwater is being pumped out more than it ever was. The same reasons are responsible for the contamination of natural water sources.
According to the NITI Aayog's Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) 2018, 21 Indian cities could face Day Zero in the coming years. The report also observed that 75% of Indian households do not have access to drinking water on premise, and about 84% rural households do not have piped water access. Unsafe drinking water is the root cause of water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, etc.
Despite the advances made so far, the road ahead remains long and tedious. The Hindu reported on July 26 that still 35% of government schools do not have access to tap water. The pandemic has slowed down the pace of the mission as it has only added tap water access in about 50,000 schools and 40,000 anganwadis since March 2021, when the second wave started intensifying.