News from States: Meghalaya
– globalbihari bureau
Shillong: Meghalaya is blessed with more than average rainfall and has abundant natural water resources. However, due to detrimental human interference, the water levels being depleted. The state has so far not even provided tap connections to large number of households.
During the Covid–19 pandemic, it was realised that it was important that people don’t crowd public stand posts/ public water sources to fetch drinking water. Therefore, the state was advised for 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 rural economy.
Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), launched by Central Government last year and which aims to provide “Functional Household Tap Connection” (FHTC) to every rural household by 2024, provided a definite roadmap to the state to provide clean, potable water to its citizens in their houses, so that the women and girls do not have to face difficulty for fetching clean water.
It may be mentioned that the mission is being implemented in partnership with States. It aims to enable every rural household assured availability of potable water at a service level of 55 litres per capita per day (lpcd) on regular and long-term basis.
Following the guidelines, Meghalaya on Monday presented the Annual Action Plan to achieve 100% household tap connections to National Jal Jeevan Mission, Ministry of Jal Shakti for approval. Meghalaya proposed 100% tap connections to all the households by December, 2022. Out of 5.89 lakh total rural households, the State is planning to provide 1.80 lakh tap connections in 2020-21.
The state, as per the proposal, the state government will cover 1096 villages with 100% tap connection in 2020-21. However, experts say a multi-pronged corrective approach and a better implementation strategy and arrangements on village level is required by the state to ensure availability of potable water.
Moreover, when the country is grappling with CoVid-19 pandemic, it has become very important to provide livelihood to the migrant workers who have returned to their native villages in Meghalaya. These personnel could be utilized in water supply related works especially plumbing, fitting, water conservation works, etc. in every village to ensure sufficient ground water availability leading to water security, water availability for agriculture and most importantly will help in provision of drinking water to every rural household. The state government says it is making elaborate arrangements. On one hand it is giving emphasis on the ‘low-hanging fruits’ in the villages/ habitations where piped water supply schemes already exist, so that remaining households could be provided with tap connections easily in very less time. On the other hand, the state plans to immediately provide tap connections to all remaining households belonging to weaker and marginalised sections of the society on priority.
It may be mentioned that under JJM, States are given additional funds in form of performance grants based on their performances in terms of outputs achieved i.e. the household tap connections. Government of India approved Rs.175 crore for implementation of JJM in 2020-21.