The relevance of accessible water is easily understood from its relative demand and supply. It is also addressed as ‘blue gold’ of the world.
However, the usable form of this resource is now at a perishable stage. Considering the data for last 2 decades, it is evident that with due course of time, freshwater availability has become indirectly proportional to the population growth in the country and on an average, there is a reduction of 18% in the per capita water availability in the country.
At national level, India is facing this issue in both rural and urban areas. Therefore, to combat this issue, in August 2019, Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti initiated a visionary programme known as Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM).
JJM vividly aligns with the Sustainable Development Goal- 6 i.e., ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
With more than 600 million people without proper access to usable water, this mission is another national flagship program to resolve this issue. Moreover, through the mission’s directives, India has taken another step towards achieving sustainability.
In its first phase, the mission was directed towards rural areas and aimed to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections by 2024 to all households in rural India.
The programme also envisioned the implementation of the source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, such as recharge and reuse through grey water management, water conservation and rain water harvesting. So far, the mission has covered approximately 39.01% of the rural households (Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti).
In continuation with the Jal Jeevan Mission (rural), the government in February 2021 extended financial support for its second version popularly known as Jal Jeevan Mission 2.0. Unlike the previous version i.e., Jal Jeevan Mission (rural), this component will predominantly cover the urban household sector for water provision and to attain better developmental stability therein.
What is New?
Precisely, there has been an outlay of approximately 2.87 lakh crore to provide safe drinking water through faucet lines to over 2.86 crore urban households in India (Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs). Thus, it is likely for these households to have better accessibility to water, hence improving their living standards.
In addition to providing household tap connections, the mission also aims to provide liquid waste management i.e., sewer connections in 500 cities covered under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
The government has also made it mandatory for cities with million plus population to work on PPP (Public Private Partnership) projects with worth minimum of 10 percent of their total fund allocation for the project.
Also, there will be a technology-based platform to monitor the mission progress along with beneficiary response – which is one of the most important highlights of JJM (urban).
Keeping the target in mind, provision of nearly 20,000 household tap connections is required to be undertaken in a day so as to achieve the target by the end of 2024 in urban areas.
For implementing this, there is a strong need to have a proper plan in place incorporating the impact of COVID-19 and the uncertain waves of surging positive cases leading to lockdowns.
It might also be required to speed up the work as soon as the conditions are favourable again in order to accomplish the target.
Necessity of the mission : Reduction in water wastageAs a matter of fact, it is understood that with non-availability of water, there is less wastage. However, in the urban context, it has been witnessed that people tend to waste more water due to unreliable supply.
One such example from the urban area is – that people tend to throw away the already stored water when water is next available to them. Usually, in the underserved areas water is available at certain collection points and people bring their vessels to collect it.
As much of a tedious task this is, the supply is unreliable. In some cases, they might not throw the stored water but use it for the least important activities like floor washing. Although this might not be the case for majority of them, still a fair share of people practices this.
With this version of the water mission, the urban households will not only have easy water accessibility, but also less water wastage.
Potential pre-requisite for future water sustainability programmesTo formulate a water resource conservation strategy, it is important to understand the nature of its demand amongst the community and have systematic city water balance (CWB) plans. With the CWB tool by European framework project as reference, JJM (urban) should also aid in the provision of data on water availability, demand, its allocation and water quality.
CWB will provide a better understanding of the usable water resources and exploring the sustainability of water management options at different spatial scales. CWB plan strategized using such holistic data should also be streamlined in a manner that it aligns with the adjacent cities.
To collect this data, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, announced a survey known as ‘Pey Jal Survekshan’ which will primarily collect data on distribution of water, wastewater, and water bodies. This survey shall first be piloted in 10 cities, five of which are water scare and the remaining five are water abundant, across the country. Although this data will be primary, it shall be verified through the similar data collected from different sources.
Since Jal Jeevan Mission 2.0 also aims to address the water shortage in urban sectors, it is important to uptake source sustainability. One way to formulize this is to promote decentralization of water supply to have better water accessibility amongst community.
In accordance to address the shortage of available water, technologies to produce water from other abiotic components such as air have also been introduced in the recent past. Implementing these at a wider scale in future will not only reduce the current stress on the water resources but also improve the accessibility at local level.
In addition to this, there should also be decentralized waste water treatment plants which can then act as a source of water to be used for feasible applications and reduce the possibility of polluting the existing freshwater resource.
Linkage with National Water policy
This mission is also in absolute accordance with the revised national water policy which focuses on the sustainable, efficient and equitable management of surface and groundwater.
As mentioned in the revised policy, there is a need for water management and governance at local levels, the mission shall pave the way through its on-ground monitoring of water usage.
Therefore, data generated under the mission can also be utilized in the assessment of local level (preferably district level) water management to ascertain systematic demand management and water use efficiency.
In the mission’s view of water for all, the source sustainability and water treatment should be prioritised as well so that water provision does not end up diminishing and polluting the water resources in the near future.
In conclusion, Jal Jeevan Mission will promote the concept of circular economy of water following the 3Rs notion (reduce, reuse, recycle), which in turn will form the basis of water management and conservation strategies.
For executing Jal Jeevan Mission 2.0 successfully, there is a need to adopt few lessons from the on-going Jal Jeevan Mission (Rural) such as good governance mechanism, strong political will and strengthened leadership at both central as well as state level.
Acceptance of the mission at community level is also a necessary pillar to achieve the goals stated under Jal Jeevan Mission 2.0. Consequently, the mission will spread a reformed sense of freedom amongst public through easy accessibility to water, leading to betterment of living standards.
( Courtesy : TERI)