In continuation of the mid-term review series on progress of implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in States/ UTs, status of the mission in the Union Territory of Ladakh was reviewed through video conferencing. The Ministry of Jal Shakti is in the process of assessing the progress made by all the States and Union Territories to achieve the goal of universal coverage of tap water connections in rural households under Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), the flagship programme of Union Government which aims to provide tap water connection to every rural home of the country by 2024.
Ladakh has around 44,082 rural households in 1,421 habitations, 288 villages and 191 Gram Panchayats. State has planned to provide 100% tap water connections in rural areas by 2021-22. To achieve that, the UT needs to utilize the existing water supply infrastructure. Ladakh has 254 villages with piped water supply systems. The UT administration is working on retrofitting and augmentation of the existing PWSs to provide tap water connections to remaining households.
Issues like preparation of Village Action Plan, constitution of Village Water & Sanitation Committee (VWSC) were highlighted in the meeting. Emphasis was given on engaging voluntary organizations, NGOs, women SHGs as implementation support agencies to handhold the local community for planning, implementation and operation & maintenance of water supply systems. UT was asked to organize training for capacity building of Gram Panchayat functionaries as well as other stakeholders and also to focus on skill development training in villages to create a pool of trained human resources at village level, which will be very helpful in implementation as well O&M of water supply systems. The UT was advised to carry out the mandatory chemical testing and bacteriological testing of drinking water sources. Water quality testing is one of the priority areas under the mission.
In 2020-21, Ladakh has been allocated Rs. 352.09 Crore for implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission. The UT was urged to plan for dovetailing of funds at village level in convergence with other programmes like MGNREGS, SBM, Local Area Development Fund, etc. for taking up works like strengthening of drinking water sources, water harvesting, grey water management, etc. to ensure judicious use of available funds.
The cold desert of Ladakh situated at an altitude of 3,000-3,500 metres above sea level, has a low average annual rainfall of 50 mm. Tourist influx and climatic changes are further calling for an urgent action to establish & maintain a sustainable system for potable water in this fragile region of the arid higher Himalayas. Jal Jeevan Mission provides the unique opportunity to address the issue holistically by ensuring ‘Har Ghar Jal’, so as to improve the lives of the people.