Tapping Potential: Govt’s efforts on Jal Jeevan Mission are laudable, but a lot more needs to be done
When prime minister Narendra Modi launched the Jal Jeevan Mission to provide clean tap water to all households by 2024, not many would have expected any degree of success given not much progress on the second stage of Swachh Bharat—sustaining ODF and effective solid & liquid waste management—was visible on the ground. But, now, the government seems to have turned the mission around. As per a government release, nearly two crore households have already received new tapped water connections. In nine districts, 342 blocks and 40,000 villages, all households have functional household tap connections. More important, the government claims to be providing tap connections to over one lakh families daily. Progress, though, has been uneven. While Telangana and Haryana have over 80% of households with tap connections, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have less than 10%. In Uttar Pradesh, only 4% of the households have a tap connection.
While the government may be on track to achieve the 100% target in 2024, there are other concerns that it needs to address. The primary one is of water availability and wastage. The government would, thus, do well if it were to initiate water harvesting and conservation plans in states. One way to conserve water would be to move away from water-guzzling crops. Moreover, the government needs to price water and delivery right, to curb wastage—in the case of Delhi, the NGT had remarked that the free water policy led to wastage in the national capital.