NEW DELHI: The top two states with the highest number of rural households in the country, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, have set an ambitious target to provide 100% tap connections for drinking water, much ahead of the national goal of 2024 under the Centre's flagship
Jal Jeevan Mission
Bihar has 17.7% of rural households with tap water connections and UP only 3.7%. Despite the lower coverage, Bihar, headed for polls later this year, has recently presented a target to cover 100% of its rural households by 2021. UP, on the other hand, has presented a roadmap to reach this goal by 2022, two years ahead of the national goal.
Though there are other states which set a goal to do so either by 2021 or 2022, most of them already have fairly high percentage of households with taps. Most of these states have in the past two months presented their targets under JJM to the Jal Shakti (water resources) ministry.
Experts, who have been working on the ground to address issues of drinking water in UP and Bihar, welcomed the goal, but expressed concerns over contaminants due to abundance of arsenic, fluoride and iron in groundwater in the Indo-Gangetic plains.
"It's an impeccable idea to provide tap connections to all rural households within a set timeframe. But if we look at groundwater situation in Bihar, the issue of contamination needs to be addressed effectively," said Eklavya Prasad, managing trustee of Megh Pyne Abhiyan, an NGO working on Bihar's water issues.
Officials in the ministry, however, said the JJM has provision to deal with the issue. They noted that every source of water needs to be tested once for chemical parameters and twice for bacteriological contamination (pre and post monsoon) in a year as a part of water quality monitoring.
"States are also expected to open water quality laboratory facilities to public, so that villagers can test the quality of water," said an official.
Besides Bihar, the other states which have set a target to cover 100% households under the Mission by 2021 include Goa, Puducherry and Telangana. On the other hand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Punjab and Sikkim have set a target to do so by 2022, like UP .
The JJM, launched in August last year, aims at ensuring potable water supply in adequate quantity (55 litres per person per day) to every rural household on regular and long-term basis. The Centre has earmarked Rs 3.60 lakh crore for this Mission where the central share is Rs 2.08 lakh crore with remaining Rs 1.52 crore to be borne by states.