Ushering a Social Revolution
8th Jun, 2021
Water is enshrined as a human right in resolution number 64/292 of the United Nations General Assembly, which calls upon Governments to ensure adequate and affordable quantities of safe water for domestic use. Providing water to every household is an inescapable duty of any Government.
Until August 15, 2019, only 3.23 Crore rural households out of a total 19.18 Crore households had piped water connections. The non-availability of potable piped water has far-reaching implications on people belonging to the weaker most sections of society and especially women.
- Women and girls in India spend a considerable time (up to 352 minutes/day) performing domestic chores. Collecting drinking water for their families constitutes a major part of it.
- This poses a major barrier to the enrolment of girls in schools, especially those belonging to poor households.
- Variability in water supply due to heavy dependence on monsoon rains and groundwater adds up to their vagaries. It exacerbates gender inequality.
- It is well known that extreme weather events like droughts have a devastating impact on weaker sections of society as they lose out on livestock and crop yield. Food prices shoot up and it has a crippling effect on their health and nutrition, ultimately affecting human capital.
- Women and girl child, in particular, bear the brunt and are most adversely affected. It leads to their stunted growth, which further translates through generations.
- As per a study, it was observed that women who have experienced a large number of dry shocks (below-average rainfall) during infancy are 29% more likely to have their child suffer through some anthropometric failure.
So, there is need to provide potable water to every household to secure our human capital and to prevent stunting of our future generations.
Measures taken to address the water crisis
- The Government launched Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in 2019, to provide tap water connections to every rural household. The newly created Jal Shakti Mantralaya is implementing the centrally sponsored scheme in partnership with States to provide “Nal Se Jal” and to secure the “Har Ghar Jal” target by 2024.
- Goa and Telangana have emerged as the first and second States respectively, to achieve 100% coverage under Jal Jeevan Mission.
- Accordingly, a tap water connection is being provided to one and all irrespective of caste, community, religion, race, etc. with an approach i.e. “No one is left behind”.
- Priority has been given to villages with a majority SC/ST population to secure 55 Ipcd. This secular and inclusive approach is primarily benefiting the people from weaker and marginalized sections of society and is proving to be a Social Revolution.
- The Mission requires skilled manpower like plumbers, masons, electricians, fitters, pump operators, etc. It will create entrepreneurial opportunities in villages.
- The entire Mission follows a bottom-up approach. It requires the formation of Village Water & Sanitation Committees/Pani Samitis that will prepare a 5-year Village Action Plan. These committees are mandated to have 50% women members.
- According to UN Report, Panchayats with greater women membership have performed better in projects like drinking water supply, sanitation, etc. Further, a suitable representation of the weaker section of the society is there in the Pani Samiti.
- Thus, this mission seeks to provide a platform for their participation as well as empowerment.
- Information Technology has been leveraged to collate and display real-time nationwide water data on a portal ejalshakti.gov.in.
- A Rashtriya Jal Jeevan Kosh (RJJK) is setup for accepting contributions from corporates, organizations, and individuals.
Jal Jeevan Mission is not merely a scheme whose outcome is limited to the aggregate of tap water connections provided. It aims to mitigate the economic, social, and physical hardships that the weaker most sections of our society have to endure in absence of a supply of regular, reliable, and safe drinking water.
It is ushering a social revolution marked by people’s participation, empowerment, convergence, inclusion, and equity.