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Jal Jeevan Mission: Can the Modi Govt Deliver Tap Water to Rural Homes by 2024?

There is no way the govt can average more than 20-25,000 connections per month with five states in election mode.

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Launching the biggest beneficiary-oriented scheme of its second term on 15 August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) will provide every rural household with a tap water supply before its term comes to a close in 2024.

On the date of the announcement, only 3.24 crore rural households had functional tap water connections out of the total 19.24 crore (currently estimated 19.41 crore). Five out of every six rural households needed to be provided with tap water connections in five years – the task was indeed mammoth.

On 25 January 2023, the PM praised the achievement of the 11 crore tap water connection milestone (including 3.24 crore existing connections). The government keeps announcing the progress of JJM from time to time. On 7 August 2023, "around 12.75 crore (65.69%) households are reported to have tap water supply in their homes," the government press release informed.

How has the JJM done?

What is the likelihood of all rural households with 100% tap water coverage in the country by March 2024?

If not happening, what are the pain points?

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JJM Started Well and Picked Up Low-Hanging Fruits Quickly

All states promised 100% coverage by 2024. Goa aimed at doing it in 2019-20. Bihar, Puducherry, Telangana, and A&N Island promised 100% coverage by 2020-2021. Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, and Punjab wanted to complete full coverage by 2021-22.

Many states had their own ambitions about 100% rural tap water supply before JJM was announced and some wanted to do it with non-JJM resources. Of 16 crore plus rural households tap connections, the JJM was expected to cover 11.98 crore- about three-fourths.
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JJM witnessed the highest momentum in 2020-21: As many as 3.23 crore rural households were provided with tap water connections that year. This achievement of course picked up the low-hanging fruits of the ongoing programmes. The programme slowed down thereafter.

There is no way the govt can average more than 20-25,000 connections per month with five states in election mode.

Total Tap Water Connections Provided in 2019-2023

JJM Mission

In the first four years, India saw the provision of a total of 8.4 crore new tap water connections – a little more than 50% of the total target.

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100% Goal Before 2024 Is Out of Reach

With about 50% of the ask needed to be delivered in one year, JJM was hopelessly out of its reach to achieve the target of 100% rural households with tap water connections, at the beginning of the last year of the program rollout. As many as 7.77 crore connections were still to be provided!

In seven months of 2023-24, by October-end, JJM claims that a total of 13.48 crore rural households have tap water connections (including pre-programme 3.24 households). There are as many as 5.93 crore tap water connections still to be provided in only five remaining months.

The government could provide only 1.85 crore tap water connections in the first seven months or about 26 lakh connections a month, in the year when it was working at breakneck speed.

There is no way that the government can average more than 20-25,000 per month in the remaining months with five states already in election mode and Lok Sabha elections set to be announced in February/March.

The goal of providing tap water connections to all rural households before the Lok Sabha elections is an impossible task.

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The Achievers and the Laggards

Nine states & UTs have achieved 100% coverage.

Gujarat, with 71% coverage in 2019, has attained 100% coverage. Telangana, with coverage of only 29% in 2019, has also covered all households, that too under non-JJM schemes. Four states- Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab & Goa, and three UTs- Andaman & Nicobar, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and Puducherry- have also attained 100% coverage.

Many states have made impressive progress. Bihar, which had a massive challenge to provide connections to 1.66 crore households, has provided as many as 1.60 crore tap water connections- a success rate of about 97%.

Uttar Pradesh, which had the biggest task of providing 2.63 crore connections, has also acquitted well having provided connections to as many as 1.75 crore connections- a little over two-thirds.

Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka are the other major states which have covered 67% to 85% of the target by now.

West Bengal is the biggest laggard at this moment having covered only 67.58 lakh rural households out of 173.82 lakhs- only 39%.

Rajasthan is the other large poor-performing state with only 47.53 lakh connections provided out of 106.64 crore households, an achievement of only 45%. Jharkhand has also provided tap water connections to only 45% rural population (27.52 lakh out of 61.68 lakh).

Kerala (51% achievement), Madhya Pradesh (59% achievement), Assam (60%), and Chhattisgarh (66%) are the other major states which have recorded relatively poor performance.

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Let the New Government Complete this Mission

Considering the likelihood that only about 1 crore tap water connections are likely to be provided in the remaining year, the country would be left with an uncovered goal of about 5 crore connections – roughly about one-third of the task at the beginning of JJM. These remaining households would be the real tough ones to be reached as well.

The Modi government would have done well to provide over 10 crore tap water connections even if one-third of the task remained unfinished.
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Provision of tap water connections is a basic minimum necessity of every household. Besides sustaining life, the tap water connections are absolutely vital for attaining the country’s health, hygiene, and prosperity agenda.

The new government, the same or different, which takes over in May 2024 must assign the top-most priority to complete the unfinished agenda of Jal Jeevan Mission. India must attain a 100% functional household tap water supply in all its urban and rural areas.

Even if it happens by 2027 or 2028, India would have achieved a big milestone – most necessary for her onward march towards credible and significant human and social development.

(The author is former Economic Affairs Secretary and Finance Secretary of India. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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