Two years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi converted an ongoing National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) into the Jal Jeevan Mission to ensure drinking water to every rural household by 2024, over 8.46 crore households, out of a total of 19.22 crore, have tap water connections, official data says.

Over 5.23 crore tap water connections have been provided after the scheme was launched on August 15, 2019. This includes households in states and Union Territories like Haryana, Telangana, Goa, Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadar Nagar Haveli and Daman Diu where 100% households have been covered. Overall, 1.22 lakh villages (spread across 60,248 panchayats or 988 blocks) in 82 districts of India have the distinction of 100% tap water coverage so far, the data points out.

Among other states, Punjab, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim, with over 75% coverage, are next in line to get 100% coverage. Incidentally, Bihar saw the most new connections (1.49 crore) after the launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission. Maharashtra, with 47 lakh households getting new water connections under the scheme, is second. Telangana (38 lakh), Odisha (30 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (29.6 lakh), Uttar Pradesh (28.8 lakh) and Tamil Nadu (26 lakh) are the other states where the re-branded scheme saw an early pick-up.

However, the task before the government will be to accelerate drinking water supply works in states where penetration level is still low. Uttar Pradesh, which goes to polls early next year, has the lowest penetration of functional household tap connections, just 12.87%. Special focus will need to be given to states like Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Ladakh and Assam where the penetration level is below 25%.

The Jal Jeevan Mission’s budgetary allocation rose to Rs 50,011 crore in FY2020, from a revised estimate of Rs 11,000 crore in FY2021. The department which administers the scheme – the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation under the Ministry of Jal Shakti – had spent 22% of its budgetary allocation in the first six months of FY2022.

Jal Jeevan Mission is the restructured and expanded version of the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) under which a 2030 target was set in 2009 to enable all households to have access to safe and adequate drinking water within premises to the extent possible in the country. The Modi government subsumed the ongoing NRDWP into the Jal Jeevan Mission and advanced the deadline to 2024 to provide functional household tap connection to every rural household (Har Ghar Nal Se Jal).

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