New Delhi: In his Independence Day speech Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed on how to make India water secure, announcing an allocation of Rs 3.35 lakh crore for the Jal Jeevan Mission — one of the most ambitious programmes of his government’s second term.
A key focus of the Jal Jeevan Mission will be the ‘Har Ghar Nal Se Jal’ programme, as part of which piped water supply will be taken to each of the 18 lakh households in rural India which did not have the facility.
Though ‘Nal Se Jal’ was mentioned in the BJP’s 2019 election manifesto and the PM has also mentioned it repeatedly, this is the first time that a specific allocation has been spoken about. The Union Budget announced in July had not made any specific allocation for the mission.
A people’s movement
‘Nal Se Jal’, one of the first schemes announced by the Modi government in its second term, is an upgraded version of the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), which was launched in 2009. The NRDWP aimed at providing drinking water supply in rural areas by 2030 at an estimated cost of Rs 6 lakh crore.
Modi said it is unfortunate that a lot of people lack access to water even after 70 years of independence. “Work on the Jal Jeevan Mission will continue with great enthusiasm in the years to come,” he said.
Comparing the Jal Jeevan Mission to Swachh Bharat, the PM said the movement towards water conservation also has to take place at the grassroots level. “It cannot become a mere government programme. People from all walks of life have to be integrated in this movement,” he said.
A new Jal Shakti ministry has been created to realise this ambitious programme, Modi said. The ministry was formed by integrating two ministries that were handling water-related issues.
Jal Shakti ministry’s plan
The ministry is already finalising the ‘Nal Se Jal’ scheme, which will be taken to the cabinet soon. It proposes funds for states based on their performance. There will be inter- and intra-state competition. States/districts that meet fixed targets will get more funds.
There will be special focus on rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and recycling water.
The ministry is set to fix annual targets for improving piped water supply. For instance, it has proposed that in the 2019-20 fiscal, piped water supply in rural areas will be increased to 30 per cent from the existing 18 per cent. It will gradually increase every year until 100 per cent coverage is achieved by 2024.
There will be some mandatory components of the scheme that states will have to implement, including setting up bore-wells and tube-wells in areas where there is no infrastructure to supply water, in addition to pumps with dry sensors and recharge structures, among other things.