New Delhi, Oct 2 (PTI) Five crore households have been provided with water connection since the launch of Jal Jeevan Mission in 2019 and now tap water is reaching every household in about 1.25 lakh villages, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday.
He also asserted that today's India has done more work on this front in just two years than what was done in seven decades.
Speaking after interacting with gram panchayats and village water and sanitation committees (VWSC) on the Jal Jeevan Mission, Modi said the mission was village-driven and its vision was not just to make water accessible to the people, but it was also a big movement of decentralisation.
In an apparent dig at previous Congress dispensations, Modi said those who had the responsibility of policy-making for a long time lived in abundance of water.
"In the places where these people lived, they had never seen such a problem with water. They did not even know what the pain of life without water is. They had water in the house, water in the swimming pool, an abundance of water," he said in his address via video conferencing.
He said such people had never seen poverty which remained an attraction for them, a means of showing off literature and intellectual knowledge.
"These people should have strived for an ideal village but they kept liking the shortcomings in the village," Modi said.
The prime minister asserted that the vision of Jal Jeevan Mission is a village-driven and women-driven movement, and its main base is mass movement and public participation.
Referring to popular conceptions of the problem of water, the prime minister talked of movies, stories, poems that told in detail how the women and children of the village walked miles to fetch water.
In the minds of some people, this picture emerges as soon as the name of the village is taken, he noted.
The prime minister asked why so few people think about the question as to why these people have to go to some river or pond every day and why the water does not reach these people.
"I think those who had the responsibility of policy-making for a long time, should have asked themselves this question," he said.
Pointing out that from the time of independence till 2019, only three crore households in the country had access to tap water, he said since the launch of Jal Jeevan Mission in 2019, five crore households have been connected with water connections.
"Today, water is reaching every household in about 1.25 lakh villages in about 80 districts of the country. In the aspirational districts the number of tap connections have increased from 31 lakh to 1.16 crore," he said, asserting that in just two years, more work has been done than was done in the last seven decades.
He appealed to every citizen of the country who lives in an abundance of water, to make more efforts to save water, and called upon them to change their habits too.
"Coming from a state like Gujarat, I have seen drought-like conditions and understand the importance of every drop of water. That is why, as chief minister of Gujarat access to water and water conservation were among my key priorities," he said.
In his remarks, the prime minister also enumerated measures to improve the health and safety of the daughters of the country.
He informed that measures like toilets in every home and school, affordable sanitary pads, nutrition support during pregnancy and immunisation have strengthened the 'Matra Shakti'.
Most of the 2.5 crore houses constructed in the villages are in the name of women, Ujjwala has relieved women of smoke-filled life, women are being integrated with atma nirbharta mission via self help groups and these groups have increased three fold in the last seven years, Modi said.
He also said that there has been a 13 times increase in the last seven years in support for women under the National Livelihood Mission as compared to five preceding years to 2014.
The prime minister said villages were embedded in the hearts of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri, as he paid tributes to them on their birth anniversary.
Modi recalled that Gandhi used to say that the real meaning of 'Gram Swaraj' is to be full of self-confidence.
"That's why it has been my constant effort that this thinking of Gram Swaraj should move forward towards accomplishments," he said.
Modi recalled measures taken during his tenure as chief minister of Gujarat for Gram Swaraj such as Nirmal Gaon for ODF villages, Jal Mandir Abhiyan to revive old Baories and wells in villages, Jyotirgram for 24 hour electricity in villages, Teerth Gram for camaraderie in villages and e-Gram for broadband in villages.
As the prime minister also, he said that he worked to involve local communities in the planning and management of schemes.
Modi said it has to be ensured that the situation of bringing water to any part of the country through tankers or trains never arises.
Earlier, he interacted with gram Sabha and pani samiti members from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Manipur.
The prime minister also launched the Jal Jeevan Mission app for improving awareness among stakeholders and for greater transparency and accountability of schemes under the mission.
He also launched the Rashtriya Jal Jeevan Kosh, where any individual, institution, corporate or philanthropist, be it in India or abroad, can contribute to help provide tap water connection in every rural household, school, anganwadi centre, ashramshala and other public institutions.
'Pani samitis' play a key role in planning, implementation, management, operation and maintenance of village water supply systems, thereby providing clean tap water to every household on a regular and long-term basis.
Out of over six lakh villages, pani samitis/VWSCs have been constituted in around 3.5 lakh villages. More than 7.1 lakh women have been trained to test the quality of water by using field test kits.
On August 15, 2019, Modi announced the Jal Jeevan Mission to provide clean tap water to every household.
To realise the prime minister's vision of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayas', and following the 'bottom up' approach, the Jal Jeevan Mission is implemented in partnership with states with a budget of R 3.60 lakh crore, according to the PMO.
Further, Rs 1.42 lakh crore has been allocated to panchayati raj institutions as a tied grant under 15th Finance Commission for water and sanitation in villages for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26. PTI ASK/KR ZMN