The government plans to set up "source finding committees" under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) to assess the sustainability of the sources supplying raw water for the piped water scheme, a senior official said on Wednesday.
The government also proposes to train five women in every village in using field testing kits to ensure that there is no arsenic, fluoride or bacterial contamination of sources of water, Vini Mahajan, Secretary in the Ministry of Jal Shakti, said at a seminar organised by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
The Mission was announced in August 2019 with the objective of supplying 55 litres of water per person per day to every rural household through household tap connections by 2024.
Around 10 crore of the 19.11 crore rural households have been covered already, Mahajan said. She said that the government has set up more than 2,000 labs across the country for water quality testing and more than 900 of them are NABL accredited.
"We are trying to make sure that every district and sub-district has an NABL-accredited lab where people can conveniently go and get water samples tested," the official said. "Also, to make the quality of water part of the ethos ... We ask that at least five women in every village should be trained in using free testing kits.
“These simple, easy-to-use kits should be made available free in every village. The community should be encouraged to keep using them to make sure that no arsenic, fluoride or bacterial contamination is happening," Mahajan said.
She said sources could dry up in certain water-stressed areas “as we extract the water required to provision 55 litres per capita per day” under the scheme. “What the mission requires as of now is that there must be a source finding committee comprising engineers and other local people who should access the source from which the scheme is drawing its raw water," she said.
The panel will “sign off and assure” about the sustainability of a particular source, the official said. Sunita Narain, Director General, CSE, said the Jal Jeevan Mission and the Swachh Bharat Mission are the “next generation reforms” instituted by the country in water and sanitation.
"One of their objectives has been to ensure 'functional' tap water supply across the country. This is a significant aim, because it is an acknowledgement of the fact that water and sanitation management is not just about putting infrastructure like pipelines in place; it is about making the whole system sustainable,” she said during the seminar that discussed best practices from rural India in water, greywater and faecal sludge management.
CSE's latest publication on the subject, a compendium of case studies titled “Big Change is Possible”, was released on the occasion. The compendium records and celebrates the successful stories from over 60 villages and peri-urban locations from across India about systems that have worked, such as ensuring sustainable supply of drinking water, greywater management, and faecal sludge treatment and management at the village level.
CSE researchers travelled to 75 villages in 30 districts of the country to assess the “big changes” on the ground. From Sikkim, the book brings forth successful cases of rejuvenation and protection of springs to ensure sustainable drinking water supply.
Stories from coastal plains – Odisha and Andhra Pradesh – talk about “conjunctive” use of groundwater and surface water. From Maharashtra come examples of greywater management, while Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh offer replicable case studies of treating and managing faecal sludge.
(With PTI inputs)