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regular-article-logo Sunday, 23 June 2024

Jal Jeevan a pipe dream for UP village: Demand and supply mismatch in PM Modi's prized scheme

Villagers of Sardar Nagar are yet to get the benefits under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), a scheme launched by the Narendra Modi government in August 2019 to provide safe and potable tap water of adequate quality to all rural households by March 2024

Basant Kumar Mohanty Sardar Nagar (Bareilly, UP) Published 20.05.24, 05:43 AM
Anwar Hussian (left) complains about the lack of piped drinking water at Sardar Nagar village in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh.

Anwar Hussian (left) complains about the lack of piped drinking water at Sardar Nagar village in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. Picture by Basant Kumar Mohanty

For the 10,000-odd villagers of Sardar Nagar, drinking water is a far cry from what is shown on official papers.

Among the several missing facilities is piped drinking water for the villagers under the Aonla tehsil, who now have no choice but to drink from whatever source they get water from.

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When Anwar Hussian, 58, asked for drinking water, Munish Mansuri, 30, filled a bottle from the nearby tubewell, locally called handpump, and handed it over to him. "This is what we have been drinking for years. We hope the quality of the water is good," he said.

"But we have no option. A water tank was constructed about 20 years ago to supply piped water but it was never made functional. Now, another tank is being constructed. We don't know when it will be functional," Hussain said.

Villagers here are yet to get the benefits under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), a scheme launched by the Narendra Modi government in August 2019 to provide safe and potable tap water of adequate quality to all rural households by March 2024. Officially, the village is shown to have achieved the objectives under the JJM.

Villages across Uttar Pradesh still depend on handpumps. Sartaj Hussain, husband of sarpanch Nasreen Fatmi, said the 53 handpumps installed by the government are the main source of drinking water here. Besides, households have individual tubewells.

"A new water tank is being constructed for the last one year. We will certainly get quality water through taps in every household once it is functional," he said.

The Union Jal Shakti ministry's department of drinking water and sanitation implements the scheme in collaboration with the states. When the scheme was introduced in 2019, 16.8 per cent or 3.23 crore rural households had tap water connections.

According to the JJM, 76.55 per cent or 14.78 crore households have been provided piped water connection under the mission as of May 18, 2024. In UP, 82.94 per cent households have been covered under the scheme. That includes the families of Sardar Nagar too.

An email was sent to the department on Thursday with the query on the lack of piped water facilities. The mail was forwarded to JJM authorities in UP. Radhakrishna Tripathi, a senior advisor with the JJM, UP, sent a written reply on Friday after verifying with the officials in the districts. He said JJM has been implemented in Sardar Nagar village.

"Sardar Nagar (block: Alampur Zafarabad) drinking water supply is being ensured through DG (diesel generator) sets. Under the drinking water scheme, overhead tank (OHT) is under construction, the work of tubewell and pump house is complete," the written reply said.

"Since the overhead tank is not operational, the households are provided water after installing DG set. They are considered to have fulfilled the provisions of the JJM scheme," Tripathi said over the phone.

This is, however, a temporary arrangement till the overhead tank is made operational, he added.

According to the JJM dashboard, 93.16 per cent rural families in Bareilly district have piped water facilities under the mission.

Tripathi said the JJM scheme certifies the water quality of tubewells but villages managing only on the basis of tubewells are not treated as JJM complaints.

"The villages where water is supplied from the overhead tank, retrofitted facilities, DG sets or submersible pumps under government support, such villages are considered to have complied with the JJM scheme," Tripathi said.

The dashboard says 94.92 per cent rural families in Badaun district have complied with the JJM scheme. In Rasoolpur village of Badaun district, Vinesh Yadav, 35, said the villagers manage their water needs from handpumps.

In Binavar village under Badaun district, Mohd. Illyas, a motorcycle mechanic, said people get their water from tubewells only.

Officially, the JJM scheme in Mainpuri district has provided piped water to 89.20 per cent rural households. A villager in Kosma Muslimeen, who did not wish to be identified, said an overhead tank has been constructed but water supply is yet to start. "People use both government handpumps and their personal ones," he said.

In Kannauj district, 93.85 per cent rural households have tap water. Yet, some villagers of Sakhauli and Nunari said their wait for tap water continues.

In the written reply, Tripathi said: "Retrofitting has been done in Kosma Muslimeen. The scheme has been handed over to the gram panchayat."

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