'Har Ghar Jal': Channeling piped water to parched districts in Madhya Pradesh

Villagers, officials join hands to ensure tap water reaches every rural household in Burhanpur, reports Anuraag Singh
All 1,01,905 households and 254 villages of Burhanpur are now getting potable drinking water through taps | Express
All 1,01,905 households and 254 villages of Burhanpur are now getting potable drinking water through taps | Express

MADHYA PRADESH: Officially, each house in Madhya Pradesh’s Burhanpur district has piped drinking water now. Known as the ‘Darwaza of Dakkhin,’ all 254 villages of Burhanpur have declared water sufficiency through resolutions passed by their Gram Sabhas. The ‘Har Ghar Jal’ scheme has fructified after a long struggle.

When the Jal Jeevan Mission was launched on August 16, 2019, only 37,241 rural households (36.54%) out of 1,01,905 in Burhanpur had potable drinking water through the tap. However, despite various disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, panchayat representatives, ‘Pani Samitis’ and district officials remained steadfast in their efforts, resulting in functional tap water connections to all households within 34 months.

In addition to the households, all 640 schools, 547 Anganwadi centres and 440 other public institutions also have tap water connections. The 440 public institutions include 167-gram panchayats, 50 healthcare centres, 109 community centres, 45 ashrams, two community toilets and 67 government offices.

The process of certification is mentioned in detail in the Margdarshika (guidance book) of Jal Jeevan Mission. According to the norms, a field engineer submits a completion certificate to the panchayat during the Gram Sabha meeting. The villages confirm that every household is getting a regular supply of water of the prescribed quality and that there are no leakages from the distribution pipeline in the village. Finally, the norms emphasize that all roads dug up to lay the water pipeline are restored after the supply work is complete.

All 254 villages have the All Village Water and Sanitation Committee (VWSC) which is responsible for the operation, maintenance and repair of the supply infrastructure developed under ‘Har Ghar Jal.’ This committee has the responsibility to collect user charges that are to be deposited in a bank account. The fund will be used to pay wages to the pump operator and carry out minor repairs at regular intervals.
Tapped water in her house after decades brought tears of joy to 75-year-old Risli Bai in Dhimania village of Khatla gram panchayat. “It’s been six decades since our family settled in this village, but never did we dream of getting drinking water through taps in our house,” says Risli Bai.

An elderly tribal resident of the village, Jhirmal Singh says that for decades, villagers had to travel to far-off jungles in search of water, particularly during the scorching summers. “The water our women collected was not worthy of consumption. But we didn’t have any option. During the rainy season, we often returned with dirty rainwater from pits and rivulets in our neighbourhood, which made our kin vulnerable to stomach infections, forcing us to spend large portions of our meagre income on their treatment,” says Singh.

District Collector Praveen Singh says women's self-help groups, tasked with cooking mid-day meals, faced a major problem in the regular supply of clean drinking water. “Thanks to the collective efforts of the government machinery and villages across the district, we now get clean drinking water.”

“We have been able to ensure that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of providing clean water to every Indian household by 2024 becomes a reality,” says Gyaneshwar Patil, Lok Sabha MP. “The future success of the scheme depends on women’s initiatives, as it’s the women's self-help groups that have been entrusted with the responsibility of successfully operating the scheme in all villages. Therefore, it’s also a part of women empowerment by making them an essential part of the district’s success story,” says District Collector Praveen Singh.

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