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Concern over slow progress of Jal Jeevan Mission in State

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, June 5 - The Centre is upset with Assam government, with Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat writing to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal expressing his concerns over the slow progress of the Jal Jeevan Mission in the State.

The mission is a flagship programme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which aims to improve the lives of rural people by providing safe drinking water to every rural household through household tap connections (FHTCs) by 2024.

In his letter, Shekhawat reiterated that the Union government is committed to provide all assistance to the State government to achieve this goal. For Jal Jeevan Mission, funds are provided by the Union government based on the output in terms of tap connections provided and the utilization of available Central and matching State share. Against the target of providing tap connections to 12.45 lakh households in the year 2019-20, only 48,852 households were covered. Further, Assam was allocated Rs 694.34 crore in 2019-20, out of which the State could only spend Rs 392.36 crore, sources said.

Shekhawat in his letter stressed that providing potable water to every rural household is a national priority and to take the mission forward, the fund allocation to Assam was increased from Rs 694.34 crore to Rs 1,407.07 crore in 2010-21. Thus, combined with an opening balance of Rs 440 crore, the State will have an assured fund availability of about Rs 1,847.62 crore as Central share. Further, with a minimum matching State share of 10%, the total fund availability with the State in the current year is likely to be Rs 2,053 crore.

However, in the last financial year, the State was unable to utilize the funds fully, which highlights the need to review the planning and implementation strategy for water supply schemes in the State so as to expedite physical progress and improve fund utilization. The Union minister has also requested the Chief Minister to make timely available of matching State share to the executing department for faster execution of the programme.

Shekhawat urged Sonowal to pay heed to the poor and marginalized section of the society while planning and they need to be prioritized for tap connections. Also, priority is to be given to saturation of villages in aspirational districts, SC and ST-dominated habitations and villages under Sansad Adarsh Gramin Yojana.

Shekhawat also advised strengthening of existing drinking water sources for long-term sustainability of drinking water supply systems. The planning should be done at village level and Village Action Plan (VAP) of every village is to be prepared by dovetailing all available resources by convergence of different programmes, including NREGS, SBM, 15th Finance Commission Grants to PRIS, CAMPA funds, Local Area Development Funds.

He has further stressed that local village community and gram panchayats and or user groups need to be involved in planning, implementation, management, operation and maintenance of water supply systems in villages to ensure long-term sustainability to achieve water security. In all villages, IEC campaign along with community mobilization needs to be taken up to make Jal Jeevan Mission truly a people�s movement.

The Minister of Jal Shakti has assured the Chief Minister of his full support to make the State a �100 per cent FHTCs State�.

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