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Jal Jeevan mission: A Maharashtra village holds a lesson for the rest of India

Each of the 5,644 residents of Pimpalghar-Ranjnoli village, situated in the industrial belt of Thane district's Bhiwandi tehsil along the Mumbai-Nasik highway, has access to 55 litres of water every day.

Under the JJM, the central government aims to provide potable water in adequate quantity on a long-term basis to every rural household through tap water connection by 2024.

Pimpalghar-Ranjnoli, a village situated in the industrial belt of Thane district’s Bhiwandi tehsil along the Mumbai-Nasik highway, has used funds under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) to ensure that all 842 families in the village get tap water connection. In other words, each of the 5,644 residents of the village has access to 55 litres of water every day.

Under the JJM, the central government, in partnership with states, aims to provide potable water in adequate quantity and prescribed quality on a long-term basis to every rural household, including in tribal areas of the country, through tap water connection by 2024.

With industries mushrooming all around it, Pimpalghar-Ranjnoli has been a preferred residential destination for labourers from different parts of the country. But as more and more labourers came to the village, water demand rose sharply.

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“It was necessary. One cannot live without water. Women benefited the most due to this initiative. Earlier we used to spend half a day in ensuring water availability for the household chores. But that is all a thing of the past now,” said Sulochana Bhagat, former sarpanch of the village.

Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, the village used its funds — around Rs 7 to 8 lakh — to lay down the pipelines.

What is equally remarkable about Pimpalghar-Ranjnoli’s achievement is the fact that the village has effectively ensured that residents pay the user charges for tap water. Often, such initiatives and success stories fail because local authorities fail to bring about a discipline where people pay the required user charges. In the absence of such user charges, many similar initiatives become unsustainable.

Each connection gets a water bill of Rs 100 per month. According to G L Chowdhari, the Village Development Officer of Pimpalghar-Ranjnoli, the village has a 90 per cent bill payment record.

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“Village gets a bill of around Rs 25,000 to Rs 27,000 from BMC every year and we try to pay the full amount without any dues,” he said. The village gets its water from pipelines running through villagers’ fields that take water to Mumbai from dams in Thane district.

Not satisfied with its achievements, the village is also extending its efforts towards reducing water wastage.

At Pimpalghar-Ranjnoli, each household gets water in the morning — from 7 am to around 11 am.

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“Earlier, when we had less water, it was used carefully. Now, many times, taps remain open, wasting water. I roam to close running taps and tell people that we must save water. Convenience cannot make us irresponsible,” said Vicky Patil, who works with the gram panchayat.

While Pimpalghar-Ranjnoli can stand out as a model for the rest of the country, it is part of a broader effort by the state government to implement JJM. Maharashtra is one of the leading states in the country in implementing the JJM.

As per the data from the central government, almost 71 per cent of households in Maharashtra have access to a tap connection; the national average is just under 52 per cent. By this metric, Maharashtra ranks ninth after Goa, Telangana, Haryana, Andaman and Nicobar islands, Punjab, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Manipur.

“Around 90 per cent of the villages in the state already had at least one tap. It helped us in planning the mission. Our challenge was to ensure that every household in the village gets the tap water,” said Hrishikesh Yashod, Mission Director, JJM, Maharashtra.

The state has planned 37,422 schemes within JJM at an estimated cost of Rs 20,968.79 crore in Zilla Parishads (ZP). As of July 25, Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for 31,430 (84 per cent) schemes are ready. Out of these, technical sanctions for 26,278 and administrative approval for 22,597 have been given. A total of 19,156 tenders have been issued.

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The state has issued work orders for 12,438 schemes. Out of the total schemes, 1,914 are complete while work on remaining 10,057 is ongoing. “While 84 per cent DPRs are ready, we are confident that the remaining 17 per cent DPRs will also be ready soon. There are a few ground-level issues which will be resolved at the earliest,” said Yashod. A scheme could be for one single village or for a group of villages.

“Works below Rs 5 crore will be executed at Zilla Parishad (ZP) level while those above will be carried out by Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran,” said Sanjeev Jaiswal, Principal Secretary, Water Supply and Sanitation department. Around 90 per cent of the DPRs will be executed at the ZP level. Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district in the Vidarbha region of the state has 100 per cent (1082 schemes) DPRs ready with work completed on 180 schemes and 664 schemes in progress.

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The state had appointed a project management consultant to execute schemes. The decentralisation of the work involved various organisations and agencies at the district level to prepare village-centric plans. The source of water was identified before the DPR.

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In case the source is groundwater, a mechanism to recharge the wells has also been finalised. “Quality of water is an important factor here for which labs will be set up,” he said. At present, 39 Groundwater Directorate of Surveys and Development Agency certified labs are working and the plan is to have 143 more at the sub-divisional level. In addition, each gram panchayat will be provided with a test kit for villagers to check the quality of groundwater.

“Our job is to deliver 55 litres of water daily to each person of every household. We will meet the deadline before March 2024,” said Yashod.

First published on: 08-08-2022 at 01:38:09 am
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