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Slow progress under Jal Jeevan Mission in Odisha prompts Union Minister of Jal Shakti write to Chief Minister

Writing a letter to Chief Minister of Odisha, Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has emphasized the importance of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) as well as urged for expeditious implementation of the programme in the State. His letter echoed the commitment of Union Government to provide all support to the State Government in execution of JJM, which aims to improve the lives of rural people by providing safe drinking water to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTCs) by 2024.

In his letter the central minister highlighted the target lapses and insufficient utilisation of funds by the State. In 2019-20, against the target of 15.61 lakh, only 4.37 lakh (27.97%) households were provided with tap connections in the State. This lag resulted in the low utilization of fund. Odisha was allocated ₹ 364.74 Crore in 2019-20, out of which the State could only utilise ₹ 275.02 Crore. Since the State was unable to utilize the funds fully, the union minister has requested the CM to review the planning and implementation strategy for water supply schemes, so as to expedite physical progress and improve fund utilization. For this mission, the funds are provided to States based on the output in terms of FHTCs provided and the utilization of available Central and matching State share.

Shri Shekhawat in his letter stressed on how providing potable water to every household is a national priority and to take the mission forward in a seamless way the fund allocation to Odisha is increased from ₹ 364.74 Crore to ₹ 812.15 Crore in 2020-21.  Along with the unspent balance of ₹ 90 Crore, this year central allocation of ₹ 812 Crore and with the matching State share, Odisha will have ₹ 1,805 Crore for implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in 2020-21. The Minister was hopeful that the State will provide State matching share along with the Central fund on timely basis to implementing department for this programme, which will help to achieve the target of 100% tap connection in rural areas.

Further, he has requested for robust planning for time bound delivery with focus on retrofitting and augmentation of existing water supply systems in 21,516 villages, so that poor and marginalised people in these villages get tap connections immediately. The State was suggested to take up this work in a ‘campaign mode’ in these villages to achieve the target. While planning, priority is to be given on saturation of villages in water scarce areas, water quality-affected areas, aspirational districts, SC/ ST dominated villages/ habitations, villages under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana and PVTG habitations.

It has been further emphasized that local village community/ Gram Panchayats and/or user groups need to be involved in planning, implementation, management, operation and maintenance of water supply systems in villages to ensure long-term sustainability to achieve drinking water security. In all villages, IEC campaign along with community mobilization needs to be taken up to make Jal Jeevan Mission truly a people’s movement.

Union minister urged for strengthening of existing drinking water sources for long-term sustainability of drinking water supply systems. The State should well utilize the existing resources through convergence of various programmes like MGNREGS, JJM, SBM (G), 15th FC Grants to PRIs, District Mineral Development Fund, CAMPA, CSR Fund, Local Area Development Fund, etc. at village level and Village Action Plan (VAP) for every village to be prepared by dovetailing all these resources.

In 2020-21, Odisha has been allocated ₹ 2,258 Crore as 15th Finance Commission Grants to PRIs and 50% of this amount is mandatorily to be utilized for water supply & sanitation. This amount is to be spent on water supply, rain water harvesting and water recycling as well as on ODF sustainability works in villages.

The letter of Union Minister is well-timed, considering the prevailing CoVid-19 pandemic situation. This is a time to instil behavioural changes in the masses to help them practice social distancing as well as expedite the water supply works. It is important that people don’t crowd public stand-posts/ public water sources. Therefore, water supply work needs to be taken up in all villages to provide household tap connections, which will help the locals and migrants in getting employment and will boost the rural economy.

Minister of Jal Shakti assured the CM of Odisha of his unstinting support to make the State a ‘100% FHTCs State’ by 2024 and intends to discuss the planning and implementation of JJM with the CM through video conferencing soon.