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Jal Jeevan Mission: Jharkhand Presents Its Annual Action Plan

The State of Jharkhand presented their Jal Jeevan Mission Annual Action Plan for financial year 2021-22 before the national committee chaired by Secretary, Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti through video conference. For the year 2021-22, Jharkhand plans to provide 7.50 lakh tap connections across the state. While presenting their plan, Drinking Water and Sanitation Department of Government of Jharkhand reiterated its commitment to achieve ‘Har Ghar Jal’ target by 2024.

The State has 58.95 lakh rural households, out of which 7.40 lakh (12.6%) have assured tap water supply. Since the announcement of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in August, 2019, over 4 lakh tap water connections have been provided and so far only 315 villages in the State have been declared ‘Har Ghar Jal’ villages, which means every rural household in these villages has tap water supply. The State was urged to give more emphasis on the priority areas like Aspirational districts, and other priority areas including piped water supply in all schools and anganwadi centres under the 100-day campaign.

In 2020-21, Jharkhand was allocated central grant of Rs. 572.24 Crore to provide assured tap water supply in rural areas, however, State could draw only Rs 143 Crore on account of low fund utilisation. In the 2021-22, Jharkhand is likely to get about Rs. 1,400 Crore as Central grant to take up various works under Jal Jeevan Mission. Under JJM, efforts are made to dovetail all available resources by convergence of different programmes viz. MGNREGS, SBM, 15th Finance Commission Grants to PRIs, CAMPA funds, Local Area Development Funds, etc. The committee suggested that the State should utilize its convergence fund for grey water management and water harvesting.

Jharkhand faces the issue of water scarcity and water contamination. Many water sources in the State are Iron, Fluoride & Arsenic contaminated, along with bacterial contamination. The committee expressed its concerns over very less water sources tested for chemical contamination and 0.31% for bacteriological contamination. In the times of Corona pandemic, it has become very important to deal with the issue of water scarcity & contamination. Clean water will promote better hygiene and a functional tap in household premises will ensure social distancing by avoiding crowding at public stand posts; thus, the State need to take good view of the importance of tap connections in every household.

Under Jal Jeevan Mission, water quality testing laboratories at district & state levels are given priority and 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 has been taken up to ensure timely procurement and supply of field test kits to the community, identification and training of at least five women in every village for community engagement, use of Field Test Kits and reporting the test result findings. In 2021-22, State plans to set up 11 new laboratories and NABL accreditation of 18 laboratories. The committee advised the State to plan to complete the accreditation of all district level labs.

The State is planning to engage various experts (Assistant Engineers, Junior Engineers, Water Quality Expert, etc.) at State and District level. In addition to it, State also intend to conduct training/ capacity building for 7,837 people from Engineering cadre (Superintendent Engineer, Executive Engineer, Assistant Engineer and Junior Engineer), block level officials, VWSC members, Swachhagrahis, team of Nehru Yuvak Kendra and members of self-help group. Further, as per plan 3,600 local persons will be skilled as plumber, pump operator and electrician in 2021-22. This trained work force shall in turn be used to build the water supply infrastructure. It will be instrumental in boosting the rural economy and providing employment to youth within the region.

The Mission focuses on development of Village Action Plan (VAP) and formation of Village Water and Sanitation Committee (VWSC) for every village so that in the long-run the villagers are empowered to operate and maintain the water supply infrastructure created under the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ programme. This ensures bottom-up approach followed by the state where community comes on board with regard to planning and water supply programme implementation. Through community engagement, the resources created in the villages/ habitations are handed over to the Panchayats and the public for monitoring, surveillance and upkeep. Jharkhand has so far constituted 19,363 VWSCs and planned for another 10,389 in 2021-22. So far, 1,264 Village Action Plans have been prepared and 28,488 VAPs are proposed for this year.

Annual action planning exercise with States/ UTs is carried out by the national committee chaired by the Secretary, Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation, and other members from different Central Ministries/ Departments and NITI Aayog. A rigorous scrutiny of the proposed Annual Action Plan (AAP) is undertaken before their finalization. Funds are released throughout the year coupled with regular field visits and quarterly review meeting to ensure timely implementation of the programme as per the goal set by the Mission.

Jal Jeevan Mission is a flagship programme of the Union Government being implemented in partnership with the States with an objective to provide tap water connection in every rural household by 2024.Underthe mission, 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. An investment of this magnitude will be highly beneficial in boosting the rural economy, providing employment to youth and removing the drudgery of women and girls, proving to be a boon for rural India.