(Part II of a two-part series)
The Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) began in 2019 and is among the key initiatives of PM Modi’s government. It aims to bring about greater ease of living throughout the country by fulfilling an essential need: providing good quality piped water to households across India (Har Ghar Nal Se Jal in Hindi) on a regular and long-term basis by 2024.
The JJM is projected to cost INR 3.5 trillion(USD 47 Billion) over a five-year period.This amount includes funds for regular Operations and Maintenance (O&M), often neglected in many infrastructure projects, as an integral part of project costs. It does not include voluntary contributions and cost of labour, materials and other services supplied by the beneficiaries as these efforts are primarily to enhance the acceptability of JJM within the community.
Various local committees such as the Gram Panchayats, Village Water and Sanitation Committees/ Paani (water) Samitis, and User Groups are to play an important role in the O&M of JJM infrastructure, cost recovery and governance. The inclusion of cost recovery for maintenance is another feature of the JJM.
One major strength of the JJM is that its funding arrangements apply the principle of co-funding, which essentially reduces the incentives and hence tendency towards inefficient behaviour on the part of states and local bodes – what economists call moral hazard.
Thus, for the Himalayan and North-eastern states, Centre and State share the cost in the ratio of 90:10. For all the remaining states, it is 50:50. UTs receive 100% funding from the Centre. This arrangement takes into account differing geographies and capacities of different states, albeit in a rough manner.
As per its reports, the 15th Finance Commission has allocated tied grants of INR 58.2 Billion to spend compulsorily on supply of drinking water, rainwater harvesting and water recycling, and sanitation and maintenance of ODF (Open Defecation Free) status. Overall, fund disbursement to states is flexible; states performing better are entitled to additional resources from the Centre. This motivates states to achieve their targets in time and encourages them to maintain sustainable water resources.
Progress in Achieving JMM Goals
India’s 28 states, nine UTs and, as of 2020, 739 districts mean that the coordination of JJM is a complex task, with variations among administrative entities.
The JJM has constructed a very detailed dashboard to monitor progress, provide detailed data to researchers and others to conduct micro-level surveys, and evaluate achievement, not only of broad goals, but also of the intended behavioural changes and impacts on health and economy. The JJM also has political behaviour implications which can be a good subject of research.
The dashboard reports that the number of rural households having tap water supply in their homes has gone up from 32.3 million (16.9% of the total) in 2019 to 58.6 million (30.7% of the total) in 2020. In 15 months, during the predominantly Covid-19 pandemic period, 26.3 million rural households have gotten direct access to tap water. This is encouraging progress.
Among the states targeted to achieve JJM goals by 2021 (Figure 2), Goa is first state in the country to achieve 100% households tap water supply connections. In Telangana, the FHTC coverage has increased from 28.8% on 15 August 2019 to 98.8% as on 21 November 2020. Thus, Telangana is also set to meet the 2021 target.
Bihar’s FHTC coverage has improved greatly, from only 1.6% to 57% by 20 November 2020. This augurs well for Bihar meeting its target by end of 2021. The JJM is likely to significantly empower women in Bihar and enhance their safety. There is scope for much policy-relevant empirical research on the JJM progress in Bihar.
A State which needs to accelerate its JJM progress is Uttar Pradesh. It has 26.3 million households to cover, but its FHTC coverage has increased only from 2% on 15 August 2019 to 6.2% on 21 November 2020. The target year for Uttar Pradesh is 2022, and hence the state needs to focus much more on implementing JJM.
The JJM, launched in August 2019, is among the transformative initiatives of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government.
We feel that the JJM has many aspects of good design and structure. Delivering potable water supply to all households in the country by 2024 will not only substantially improve ease of living, but also improve health status, and empower women by improving their safety and accessibility to opportunities for improving household welfare through economic activities. JJM can also bring about positive social and political behavioural changes. These however must be ascertained through rigorous objective empirical evidence-based research.
The JJM has developed an excellent dashboard providing almost real time progress of its progress throughout the country. It is up to the research community, both those in science and tech, as well as those in social sciences, to utilize it, and constructively contribute to ensuring good quality water supply to households, animals, environment, and economy.
It is said that water will be to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th. Thus, everyone in India has a stake in making JJM a success.
(Read Part I of the two-part series here)
(A version of this article was first published here on MyIndMakers.)
The views and opinions expressed in the above article belong to the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official opinion, policy or position of Lokmaanya.