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India: Assam has presented the Annual Action Plan for consideration and approval of the Ministry of Jal Shakti. The government of India approved Rs. 1407 Crore for 2020-21 under Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM). In 2020-21, the state plans to provide tap connections to 13 lakh households out of a total of 63 lakhs. Realization of the goal of Jal Jeevan Mission in Assam is not difficult taking into account the abundant water resources in the State i.e. both groundwater and surface water.

The state is giving emphasis on capitalizing on ‘low-hanging fruits’ i.e. in the villages/ habitations where piped water supply schemes already exist, to yield the desired results. The state plans to immediately provide household tap connections to all remaining households of belonging to weaker and marginalized sections on priority. A defined roadmap is also charted for the effective implementation of the Village Action Plan (VAP) with the active participation of the rural community. Strengthening of existing drinking water sources for the long-term sustainability of drinking water supply systems through the convergence of various programs like MGNREGS, SBM (G), 15th Finance Commission Grants to PRIs, District Mineral Development Fund, CAMPA, Local Area Development Fund, etc. at village level is planned for judicious use of all available resources.

While planning, thrust is given on covering households in quality-affected habitations, aspirational districts, SC/ ST dominated villages/ habitations, Sansad Adarsh Gramin Yojana villages, etc. on priority.

Above all, local village community/ Gram Panchayats and or its sub-committee/ user groups are being involved in planning, implementation, management, operation, and maintenance of water supply systems in villages to ensure long-term sustainability. Jal Jeevan Mission encourages the participation of the local community in surveillance of water quality. PHE department is duty-bound to empower and engage with the community. For this, action plan carried out to incorporate the entire value-chain- from timely procurement of kits, the supply of kits to the community, identification of at least five women in every village, training women for use of Field Test Kits and reporting and collating the reports with laboratory-based findings of the water sources.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that people don’t crowd public stand posts/ public water sources to fetch drinking water. Therefore, State is taking up water supply works in villages to provide household tap connections, which will help in practicing social distancing, and will additionally help local people in getting employment and boost the rural economy.

When the country is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become very important to provide a livelihood to the migrant workers who have returned to their native villages. These migrant laborers are basically skilled and semi-skilled ones, whose services could be utilized in by providing jobs related to water supply especially plumbing, fitting, water conservation works, etc. in every village to ensure sufficient groundwater availability leading to water security, water availability for agriculture and most importantly will help in the provision of drinking water to every rural household.

With the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission, people in rural areas now aspire to get tap connections in their household premises, which they could not even think of till last year. With the active support of states, the Ministry of Jal Shakti is steering the Mission to bring cheers in the lives of rural folks by making provision of potable water in adequate quantity and of prescribed quality on a regular and long-term basis.

Jal Jeevan Mission announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year aims to provide tap water connections to 18 Crore rural households of the country by the year 2024. The mission focusses on the principle of ‘equity and inclusiveness’ to ensure universal coverage of every rural household.

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