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Decentralisation key to success of sanitation scheme, says Namami Gange chief Rajiv Mishra

Delegating powers to states, integrating project maintenance into its design, and collecting good data were some of the key points highlighted about India's water and sanitation projects.

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New Delhi: Decentralisation is the key to success of sanitation projects in India and convergence of Jal Jeevan Mission with sanitation is needed to look into sustainability of water sources, experts said Thursday at a workshop focused on water, sanitation and hygiene.

Talking about the mission at the two-day ‘WASH Futures: Subsidiarity for Service Delivery’, organised by the Centre for Policy Research, Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, head of ‘Namami Gange’ mission, said it was important that responsibility was delegated.

“The National Mission for Clean Ganga has sanctioned projects worth Rs 20,000 crore in last two years. We have tried to delegate powers to decide on fund allocation to states also,” he said, while speaking on ‘Rural Urban Continuum and The Emerging Needs for Integrating Water and Sanitation’.

Mishra, also the director general of National Mission for Clean Ganga, said the Namami Ganga programme is different from other water and sanitation projects as they have made operation and maintenance of the project for 15 years an integral part of it.

Speaking at the session, V.K. Madhavan, chief executive at WaterAid India, said that large drinking water schemes had limited success rate on account of water sources drying up. This in turn is due to inadequate operations and maintenance.

Stressing on the need for convergence, Madhavan said there should be a convergence of Jal Jeevan Mission with sanitation to look into aspects of source sustainability, quality of water flowing through the pipes, operation and maintenance and data reporting.

“In the given rural context, there is need to reflect on capacity building of utilities and grass root functionaries for effective governance and decentralisation, and launch of regulatory framework to maintain standards and compliance mechanism,” Madhavan said.

He also stressed on the need for quality data.

“Quality of data that drives decision making is one of the challenges of integrating Jal Jeevan Mission with sanitation programme. There is a need to ensure that quality of data is good,” he said.

The session also touched upon the Swachh Bharat mission, with Nicolas Osbert, UNICEF India’s WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene) chief, saying the clean India project is a great narrative for driving sustainable development goals.

“There’s a need for cross-sectoral approach on health and education in India that will encourage investment by government, private players and developmental partners,” he said.

Yamini Aiyar, president and chief executive, Centre For Policy Research, said that one of the most important achievements of the sanitation narrative in India has been how it has grown from a fringe issue only some people talk about to a mainstream policy narrative in the last five years.

“Not only has it become part of the mainstream policy narrative, it (has) also became part of the action narrative… Not only did we as a country and our policy makers accept that this was something that we needed to do, they identified very clearly defined targets and actually started moving in the direction of implementing those,” Aiyar said.

ThePrint was a digital partner of the workshop.

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