Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) is an ambitious plan of the Union Government to provide piped water connection to every rural household by 2024 with 3.5 Lakh Crores investment. Even the state governments have invested heavily into this project like Mission Bhagiratha in Telangana. The National Sample Survey (NSS) report on Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition in India included crucial data about the state of piped water connection in India which can provide actionable insights to the decision makers.
As we can see from the Figure 1, the access to piped water connection in rural India is in an alarming condition. Only a handful of states like Goa, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Gujarat have a reasonably good performance. This shows us the importance of the Jal Jeevan Mission at this juncture of India’s development.
However, it should be noted that low piped water connection does not imply low water supply. For instance, rural Delhi (33%) , Andhra Pradesh (30%) and Telangana (26%) have bottled water as a major source of water, thereby mitigating the ill-effects of lack of piped water supply. Similarly in Jharkhand despite extremely low piped water access (0.9%), presence of hand pumps (64% rural households rely on hand pumps) allowed water supply. So, the need for investments under JJM is critical in those states where water access is a challenge. This challenge can be measured by the time taken by households to fetch water. UN has set a standard of 30 minutes as optimum time for this measure. All-India average for this metric is that 90% of Indian rural households have a water source wihtin 30 minutes of round-trip collection.
From Figure 2, we observe that in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Uttarakhand and Manipur, majority of households have to travel for more than 30 minutes to fetch water. It is a matter of concern that Kerala, Manipur and Uttarakhand neither have good piped water access nor good water access making them extremely important states in which Jal Jeevan mission has to be focused.
Output vs Outcomes:
Having piped water infrastructure should not be the sole aim of the scheme. Ensuring that there is sufficient year-round water in these pipes should be the objective. There are a few states in which households do not get proper water supply despite having a piped water connection. Studying the issues in these states will help the Jal Jeevan Mission to become outcome oriented rather than output oriented. All India average =29% if rural households dont get water despite pipes.
Figure 3 shows these states where there is no water in pipes. Special mention states are Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Maharashtra where there is no water supply despite high piped water infrastructure.