Meghalaya moving fast to achieve 100% household tap water connections despite all odds
Under Jal Jeevan Mission, the Government of Meghalaya has decided to provide Functional Household Tap Connectionsto all rural homes in the State by 2023. There are 5.90 lakh rural households in 6,415 villages in the State and out of these, balance 5.83 lakh households are planned to be provided tap connection.
The primary focus under the Mission is ‘service delivery’ and ‘functionality’. Every family is to be provided with potable water of prescribed quality, in adequate quantity on regular and long-term basis. This needs the local communities to own their water supply systems and lead the implementation from the planning stage to the operational & maintenance stage. The mission is being implemented in such a manner that local communities through their Gram Panchayats or its sub-committees namely Village Water and Sanitation Committees (VWSCs) plan, implement, approve, operate and maintain their own water supply systems.
Recently, atwo-member team from the National Jal Jeevan Mission visited the State. The team visited the districts of West and East Jaintia, East Khasi and Ri-bhoi, an aspirational district. In the Amsohrhong village in West Jaintia district, that is last but one village from the Bangladesh border, all 74 households have been provided with tap water connections. Earlier, the watersupply was through public stand post requiring women and children to walk every time to fetch water. As envisaged under Jal Jeevan Mission, the community has to contribute 5% or 10% of capital cost for in-village infrastructure as the case may be, in cash/ kind/ and/ or labour, the community has provided labour for meeting the 5% community contribution, which indicates the sense of ownership of the village community for the water supply scheme.
In East Jaintia district, the team visited the Suchenmulieh village with 62 households who all have been provided tap water connections through a multi-village scheme. Water tariff in these two districts would be decided by the community after handing over of the schemes. One of the problems faced is the difficulty in transporting the materials to far off villages due to poor connectivity during monsoon as well as the lock down period when villagers never allowed any outsider to visit them.
The village MawthlongMynsain in East Khasi district is having 123 households and out of them 95 have been provided tap connection so far. The provision of tap connection has saved hours of drudgery of women and girls. The daughters are now relieved of their evening routine to fetch water and use saved hours for studies and games. The Village Water & Sanitation Committee Chairman assured to take over the Operation &Maintenanceof the water supply scheme. The team also visited the Shoryngkhem village, which is once considered as a largest village in Asia and spread over 32.61 sq.km with a population of 7,789, wherein the retrofitting works of existing piped water supply systems is planned to provide tap water connections to all households.
In the Aspirational district of Ribhoi, the team visited Syahheh, Nerbong, Umiapkhla villages wherein tap connections are being provided through convergence with retrofitting of schemes taken up to provide tap connections. Despite a small village with framing as major activity, the 21 households of Umiapkhla village provided 5% community contribution and are willing to collect Rs 40 per household per month for the operation and maintenance. Along with households, anganwadis and schools are also being provided tap connections under the mission’s 100 days campaign launched on 2nd October, 2020 to provide piped water supply in these public institutions.
Despite the pandemic period, difficulty in the availability and transport of materials, State receiving heavy monsoon rains in 2020, the provision of tap water connections under the mission is fast-tracked. The team also had interactions with district and State PHED officials. The State that started with 1% of its rural households with tap connection is well on its way to achieve the targeted 100% tap connection by 2023.These silent works undergoing in these difficult hilly terrains to provide basic amenity such as potable water to every rural home speak volume of the commitment of the Government to bring improvements in the lives of people.