When Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his Flagship Scheme the Jal Jeevan Mission in 2019, what he looked at was ensuring clean drinking water for every household across India. On 9 June, as the PM tweeted about the success of the scheme, Uttar Pradesh had another reason to pat its back.
The scheme has not only provided drinking water even in the most backward region of Bundelkhand, but also employment opportunities to men and women alike. Filling the gaps of basic infrastructure, the scheme has also ensured that like all other parts of the state, Bundelkhand also got investment for growth of industries in its districts.
As per official records, by 15 May 2023 functional household tape connection reached 1,26,39,557 families under the ‘Har Ghar Nal’ scheme of Jal Jeevan Mission. The minimum number of daily tap connections in UP is more than 41,000. But this is not all.
As a part of the employment generation component of the scheme, 1,16,388 youth are being trained in plumbing, 1,16,388 as electricians, 1,16,388 as motor mechanics, 116,388 as fitters, 174,582 as masons, and 1,16,388 pump operators in UP. The project extensively aims at providing employment to women and so far more than 4,80,000 women have been trained in Field Test Kit (FTK) Training in UP.
The Bundelkhand region has been one of the biggest gainers of the scheme. One of India’s most backward regions, water is not just a health issue in the six districts under Bundelkhand, but also a social issue. Lack of industries and basic amenities has always led to large scale unemployment and migration in the region. But through the Jal Jeevan Mission, the UP government has been able to change things for Bundelkhand too.
According to the data, Jalaun has 6018 youth trained FTK, Jhansi has 4161, Lalitpur 4142, Banda 3631, Hamirpur 3262 and Mahoba 2315. Women like Neetu Singh of Jhansi, who have been given FTK training and are now financially independent, now not just have access to drinking water in their homes, but also financial independence. And like Neetu, thousands of women and even young men are being given skills to be employed directly or indirectly in several projects.
The access to drinking water has joined links to the development of the region in another way. In the recent Global Investors Summit, the 6 districts of Bundelkhand too received major project proposals for investment and setting up of industries in the district. A senior UP government official, preferring not to be named said, “The project made basics like connecting roads, drinking water and man power available easily. The companies knew that there is now no problem in these three requirements and hence did not shy away from giving proposals for Bundelkhand.” The districts got 424 investment proposals worth Rs 4,27,873 crore, which is around 13 per cent of the total received by UP.
Talking to Businessworld, Anurag Srivastava Principal Secretary, Namami Gange and Rural Water Supply Department, GoUP said that the Jal Jeevan Mission indeed has been one of the biggest social support schemes in UP. “When we started the scheme in UP, the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Ji’s mandate was quite clear that we have to start with districts which are the most backward and worst-hit. Bundelkhand and Vindhyanchal were the two regions where the project was initiated with priority and despite backlog due to Covid, we have managed to cover 85 per cent of the region in terms of tap water connections and even employment skill training targets.”
Srivastava adds that while it was not easy to work in Bundelkhand, the department was clear that it will always keep this arid, drought-prone region on priority. “For a backward region like Bundelkhand, drinking water not just changes the health scenario, but the complete social engineering. There have been several programmes in the past too. But none of them targeted each and every individual household. Through the Har Ghar Nal scheme, we have not only catered to a health issue, but as the Chief Minister had instructed, also created a social balance to ensure that every individual, irrespective of their caste, religion or gender, has access to the basic needs.”
What Is Jal Jeevan Mission
The Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), a flagship program of the Government of India, was launched on 15 August, 2019, by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The program is a crucial step towards achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6, which aims to ensure access to water and sanitation for all.