A key target of the Centre’s Jal Jeevan Mission has been missed due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has now extended the deadline “as a special case” for completing these priority aspects of the flagship scheme by a year till March 31, 2022.
The National Jal Jeevan Mission envisions covering every household in the country with a tap drinking water connection by 2024. But there were two other earlier targets that were to be completed by March 31, 2021. One was retrofitting or augmenting water supply to reach the left-out households in 4.19 lakh villages which had an existing piped water supply system. Two was covering all habitations in the 61 Japanese Encephalitis-Acute Encephalitis (JE-AES) affected districts.
In a letter to all states on August 14, the Ministry of Jal Shakti has conceded that the deadline of March 31, 2021, has not been met by the states and Union Territories. In fact as of June, retrofitting work for covering all household with drinking water was yet to start in 3.86 lakh villages out of the total 4.19 lakh villages which had existing water supply systems. These villages are in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Assam and Chhattisgarh.
“The department has now received several requests from states for extension of deadlines for retrofitting/augmentation and coverage of priority areas. The above matter has been examined and in view of the difficulties faced by States/UTs due to Covid pandemic and the resultant disruptions that affected implementation of the works in many parts of the country, relaxations have been made as a special case with strict compliance to this effect,” the Centre’s letter says.
The deadline for retrofitting or augmenting water supply scheme to make all households Jal Jeevan Mission complaint will now be March 31, 2022. The same deadline has been set to cover all households in the “Aspirational Districts and JE-AES affected districts on top-most priority”. States and UTs have been asked to adhere to the new deadline to accomplish goal in a time-bound manner, the letter says. There are 117 Aspirational Districts and 61 JE/AES affected districts.
The retrofitting work in 4.19 lakh villages, which are 69% out of total villages in the country, is a huge task for the Centre and state governments and work must start on it in the next few months if the government is to achieve its ‘Har Ghar Jal’ target by 2024. Out of total 6.04 lakh villages in the country, about one lakh villages have achieved 100% tap water supply so far. The Centre has in fact been aiming to complete the ambitious scheme a year ahead of schedule in 2023.
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