India, one of the world’s most water-stressed countries, is halfway through an ambitious drive to supply clean tap water by 2024 to rural India (roughly 192 million homes across its 6 lakh villages).
Almost 180,000 government engineers are overseeing the $50 billion attempt that includes hundreds of thousands of contractors and labourers who are laying further than 4 million kilometres of pipe.
According to a status report shared by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation and the National Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) this week, India has delivered drinkable tap water connections to around 8.69 crore rural homes across the country as of 21 December 2021. This is 45.2 per cent of its 2024 target of 18.95 crores tap water availability.
This project has seen one of the best versions of Narendra Modi, who has risen above India’s notorious red tape and pushed aside political divisions to see it through. His dominance over the majority of India is something that has been here for almost a decade now.
He was able to achieve this despite the weak economy and the screwed up initial response to COVID-19 where he was seemingly overconfident in the management of resources during the crisis.
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Coupling it with his reliance on communal politics, he has held ground thanks to the appeasement of the majority of the Hindu population in India, which he has worked over a decade to rally.
However, credit should be given where it is due, Modiji has combined two of his political strengths to deliver solutions to the water crisis in rural India: his understanding of the day-to-day problems of rural India and his guts to aim for ambitious long-term solutions for the same.
When the program began in 2019, 1 in 6 houses had access to clean tap water in their homes, which now stands at 1 in 2, thanks to the Jal Jeevan Mission.
“You rarely have this drive from the government, the head of state, and it is well funded. Behind the concept, there is a budget,” said Nicolas Osbert, who leads the UNICEF water and sanitation unit in India. “All social sectors were impacted by COVID. Not this one. This one was preserved.”
Among India’s 1.4 billion population, nearly two-thirds live in rural areas, which echoes the mismatch of India’s global aspirations and the indigenous problems that it faces.
Nearly 40 million Indians are affected by waterborne diseases every year, leading to about $600 million annually in medical costs and labour loss. About 1,00,000 children who are under 5 years old die of diarrhoea every year. The growth of millions more is stunted, thanks to the problems of impure water.
According to the Jal Jeevan report published on the website, at the end of 2020, Goa became the first state to report 100 per cent potable tap water supply to all rural houses. Telangana and Haryana, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Puducherry and Andaman and the Nicobar Islands followed suit, by reaching 100 per cent target this year.
Other states that are close to achieving the 100 per cent target include Punjab (92 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (90 per cent) and Gujarat and Bihar (88 per cent each).
Before the announcement of the Jal Jeevan Mission by Modi on 15 August 2019, about 3.23 crore rural households in the country had a potable tap water supply. This translated into the government providing about 15.72 crore connections in 1,966 days (to achieve the 100 per cent target set for 2024) or 80,010 connections daily.
Can the Government under Modi accomplish this huge feat?
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Sources: NY Times, The Times Of India, MSN
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This post is tagged under: Modi, Narendra Modi, PM Modi, India, Water, Jal Jeevan Mission, BJP, Modi Best, PM Cares Fund, covid-19, UNESCO, clean water, basic human right, necessity, save water
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