Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat discussed with Chief Minister of Sikkim, Prem Singh Tamang regarding the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in the State through video conferencing today. Secretary, Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation, Addl. Secretary & Mission Director, National Jal Jeevan Mission and other officials of the Ministry also attended the meeting. From Sikkim, Minister of PWD, Chief Secretary and other senior officers took part in the discussion.
Union Government’s flagship programme, Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) is under implementation in partnership with States to provide tap connection to every rural household of the country by 2024. The objective of the Mission is universal coverage, i.e. every family in the village gets tap water connection in their homes. Sikkim is planning 100% coverage by 2022 to accomplish the target of providing tap connection to every rural household of the State.
The Union Minister had a detailed discussion on the progress of the mission in the State with the Chief Minister. Emphasising the importance of the transformational mission, the central Minister emphasised on retrofitting and augmentation of existing water supply schemes. In the State, all 411 villages have piped water supply schemes, but 70,525 (67%) homes have tap connections out of 1.05 lakh households. The Union Minister urged the Chief Minister to take up the work a campaign mode so that remaining families belonging to poor & marginalised sections of the society could be provided with tap connections at earliest.
Gajendra Shekhawat assured of the commitment of the Union Government to provide all assistance to the State to achieve this goal. For Jal Jeevan Mission, funds are provided by the Government of India based on the output in terms of tap connections provided and the utilisation of available central and matching state share.
Sikkim plans to provide tap connections in 16,879 households during 2020-21. In 2020-21, ₹ 31.36 Crore has been allocated to the State. The state is eligible for additional fund based on physical and financial performance. Sikkim has been given ₹ 42 Crore under 15th Finance Commission Grants to rural local bodies, and 50% of it is to be used for water supply and sanitation. The central minister urged the Chief Minister to plan for utilising this fund for rural water supply, grey-water treatment and re-use and most importantly for ensuring long-term operation and maintenance of water supply schemes.
Union Minister further emphasised on the preparation of village action plans as well as the constitution of Village Water & Sanitation Committee/ Paani Samiti as a sub-committee of Gram Panchayat with minimum 50% of women members, responsible for planning, designing, implementing and operating & maintaining of in-village water supply infrastructure. All villages have to prepare Village Action Plan (VAP) which essentially will comprise of development/ augmentation of drinking water sources, water supply, grey-water management and operation and maintenance component. It was urged to take up IEC campaign to make Jal Jeevan Mission, indeed a people’s movement.
Under Jal Jeevan Mission, priority is being given on water quality surveillance through active participation of the local community. 5 persons, especially women, are being trained in every village to use the Field Test Kits to test the quality of water being provided in the rural areas. Every source needs to be tested once every year for physical and chemical parameters and twice for bacteriological contamination. The State was also advised to complete the accreditation of State and district laboratories and also to open those for the public so that people can test the quality of water supplied at a very nominal rate. Minister of Jal Shakti mentioned that by undertaking the initiatives under JJM, Sikkim could provide leadership in utility-oriented rural water supply approach.
He cited various challenges in the State like rugged terrain, thin population, poor connectivity and the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic, the Chief Minister of Sikkim mentioned that he would review the progress of the Jal Jeevan Mission regularly. He assured of expeditious implementation of the mission in the State to achieve the target of providing household tap connections in rural areas in a time-bound manner.