India is among the top-10 water-rich countries in the world, with access to about 4% of the world's water resources. India's rapid population expansion, urbanization, and rising living standards have resulted in high water demand throughout the country. According to the data reported by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), growth in the urban population lead to the additional water demand of 12,420 million litres per day (MLD) in 2018. Furthermore, the country's water demand is expected to grow by 77% from 710 billion cubic meters (BCM) in 2010 to 1180 BCM by 2050. To address this aggressive demand for water, the government had introduced few plans at the national level several decades ago. However, the current government announced plan, Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) launched in 2019, is unique because it emphasizes the importance of achieving 100% Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) in a short period.
Jal Jeevan Mission
On August 15, 2019, Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, announced the most ambitious water program in Indian history, the Jal Jeevan mission. India is expected to spend Rs. 3.50 lakh crore (US$ 46.5 billion) for the program. The aim is to provide functional tap water across every state and union territory by 2024. The goal is a service level rate of 55 litres per capita per day. The Indian government wants to take tap water accessibility to 100% across the country. India's Jal Jeevan mission aims to strengthen the existing water sources to set up various treatment plants and desalination plants in the coastal regions. The mission also aims that the existing water supply and connections are functional, water quality is maintained, and sustainable agriculture is achieved. It ensures the conjunctive use of conserved water, drinking water source augmentation, drinking water supply system, greywater treatment, and reuse.
The Jal Jeevan mission ensures that individuals in need of water have access to it. This in particular benefits women and young girls who travel long distances to fetch water. The government aims to utilize the newfound time for income generation, tourism improvement, skills improvement, and supporting child education.
Key Components of the Jal Jeevan Program
India's Jal Jeevan program is extremely ambitious as it aims to provide accessibility to 100% of tap connections to every rural household. The program aims to provide every rural household access to drinking water in sufficient amounts and of approved quality on a regular and long-term basis, resulting in improved rural communities' living conditions.
Several critical components supported under India's Jal Jeevan Mission include:
The program aims to provide in-village piped water supply infrastructure to each rural household. This will help reduce the time and energy rural women spend on getting water for day-to-day use, which will help create opportunities for women in the sense that women will be able to dedicate more time to productive activities like education and work.
Jal Jeevan mission aims to develop an expansion of existing water sources to provide long term water sustainability in the country. This also reduces the stress on traditional water sources and help India to tackle the impending climate crisis. The program also takes steps towards greywater management.
India's Jal Jeevan mission aims to improve the distribution network to serve every rural household and provide bulk water transfer and treatment plants wherever necessary. This will also help to address water scarcity issues.
The mission aims to reduce water contamination and address the issue with the help of technology. The program also aims to support activities like water testing facilities, research and development and knowledge centres. Jal Jeevan mission has over 2,018 active laboratories for testing the water quality.
Structure of the Jal Jeevan Program
The Jal Jeevan program aims to provide 100% FHTC in every household by 2024. To achieve this, there have been various levels of state, district and village level action plans as listed below:
The SAP is being created to attain statewide drinking water security. Prioritizing retrofit of existing infrastructure, rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge of drinking water sources, identifying surplus water regions in the state, ensuring water reservation in drought-prone and desert areas, unbundling existing departments into different agencies focusing on specific aspects of water supply, outlining different financing models and use of hydro geomorphological (HGM) maps and space technology for the plan are some of the programs in the list.
This includes strategic planning for Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC), preparation and analysis of database components from village action plans, and the timeline for activities. The DAP also includes identification of in-situ traditional harvesting techniques, structures to be revived; estimation of the type of sources, required treatment facilities, reservoirs, water pumps, distribution networks and submission of the DAP to the State Water and Sanitation Mission (SWSM).
Gram Panchayat or its sub-committee prepares the village action plan (VAP). The roles will include researching the history of water supply; details of droughts, cyclones, floods; history of emerging arrangements, general trends of water availability; the current status of village water supply; assessment of required water; capacity building of members of Gram Panchayat and ensuring the availability of land for construction of in-village water supply infrastructure. The VAP is submitted to the District Water and Sanitation Mission (DWSM) for further action.
Impact of the Jal Jeevan Mission
Since August 15, 2019, over six states in India have achieved 100% FHTC. These states include Goa, Telangana, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puducherry, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, and Haryana. This includes over 96 districts, which have over 132,134 villages.
Source: Jal Jeevan Mission Website
Jal Jeevan Mission managed to provide a drinking water supply to 5.5 Crore (55 million) households till the end of 2021.
India currently has around 19.25 Crore (192.5 million) households. As of August 2019, about 3.23 Crore (32.3 million) households (16.81% of the total) had tap water connections. Since the commencement of the Jal Jeevan Mission, an additional 5.6 Crore (56 million) households have been provided with tap water connections. This took the count to 8.83 Crore (88 million) connections, about 45.92% of the total households. Six states and UTs have a 100% tap water connection rate currently.
Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Gujarat have a coverage of more than 90% of households with tap water connections, with Punjab at 98.27%. As the agriculture sector in India is one of the most significant contributors to the country's GDP (share of 19.9% in 2020-21), having a steady water supply, especially to the rural regions can benefit the agriculture sector and thereby the economy.
Jal Jeevan mission also focuses on the availability of water in schools. The mission has achieved 100% Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) for schools of over 15 states. The mission has doubled the tap water supply for over 840,970 schools, accounting for 81.72% of schools in India and 858,957 anganwadis which accounts for 76.85% of all the Anganwadi.
Jal Jeevan mission program deals with the day-to-day problems every rural India faces and provides a permanent solution for it. This program would also reduce stress among rural women and provide them with different headspace to develop skills and be a part of the Indian labour force. By 2024, India is expected to meet its 100% Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) goal. The Indian government has also planned out various treatment plant and desalination plants across the country, with the recent one being the desalination plant announced in Andra Pradesh. This focus on increasing India's water capacity and improving infrastructure, accessibility and tech inclusion will make this program the most effective and sustainable solution for India's water problems.