The “Swachh Sujal Shakti Samman 2023”, organized by the Ministry of Jal Shakti to honour the women champions of rural water and sanitation sector, was graced by the President of India, Smt. Droupadi Murmu. This event organized in the run up to the International Women’s Day, was to felicitate the exceptional and exemplary work being done at the grassroots level by women in the implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission – Grameen (SBM-G), Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain (JSA-CTR). 36 women WASH Champions were conferred with the ‘Swachh Sujal Shakti Samman 2023’ by the President of India and Union Minister of Jal Shakti. The event also saw the launch of Jal Shakti Abhiyan – Catch the Rain 2023 and release of National Water Mission’s(NWM) SoPs on Source Sustainability by Minister of Jal Shakti Sh. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. Union Minister also presented President with the first copy of the ‘Swachh Sujal Shakti Ki Abhivyakti’ – a compendium of case stories from SBM (G), JJM and NWM. A customized ‘My Stamp’ for NWM was launched by Minister of State for Communications Sh. Devusinh Jesingbhai Chauhan, who also presented the first copy to President.
In her address, President observed that women are at the forefront of all the 3 missions of Ministry of Jal Shakti, ‘We recognize the efforts of women in the Self-Help Groups and community-based organizations who have played a vital role in spreading awareness about the importance of water conservation, water management and sanitation. Their hard work and determination have been instrumental in the success of the Swachh Bharat Mission, Jal Jeevan Mission and Jal Shakti Abhiyan’. President added that it’s the women leadership in the SBM(G) and JJM programs, that has brought piped water supply to more than 11 crore rural households and in achieving more than 2 lakhs ODF Plus villages. Highlighting the overall benefits of the flagship missions, Smt. Murmu said, “Nobel laureate Michael Kremer, in his study has reported that 1.36 lakh lives of children under five years of age can be saved every year in rural India by providing safe and adequate drinking water through tap connections and having safe sanitation practices”.
Applauding the women champions, she said that we all have seen how Babita Gupta of Bihar was awarded today for converting plastic waste into decorative products, Salila Jena of Odisha for solid and liquid waste management, Munni Devi of Jharkhand for providing tap water to homes, and Neelam Singh for playing an important role in making the village ODF plus through community cooperation. “These women make my belief stronger that with their dedication and hard work, India will present an example to the world in water management and sanitation.” In her concluding remarks, President said, “I would like to tell all the Awardees present here that when you go back to your villages, tell people about the work being done in the field of cleanliness and water conservation across the country, inspire them to follow environmental friendly practices. I am sure that today’s award will inspire you to work with more dedication and seeing you, other people will also learn and contribute to cleanliness, water and environment protection.”
DDWS is implementing two flagship programmes of the central government i.e. Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G) and Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM). SBM-G was started on 2nd October 2014 with the objective to stop Open Defecation. All villages in the country declared themselves as Open Defecation Free(ODF) on 02nd October, 2019. Thereafter, SBM-G 2.0 was launched to sustain the ODF status of the villages and to improve the level of cleanliness in rural areas through Solid and Liquid Waste Management, thereby making the villages ODF Plus. As on date more than 2 lakh villages of the country have been declared ODF Plus. On 15th August 2019, Jal Jeevan Mission was launched by the Prime Minister. At the time of the launch only 3.23 Crore rural households had access to tap water connection, with relentless efforts made on ground by the Mission in partnership with the State and UTs, today over 11 Crore rural households are getting potable water through taps.
To make water everyone’s business, Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) was launched in 2019, a national call to action that involved millions of people in water conservation and recharge efforts. This campaign led to creation and rejuvenation of more than 6 lakh water related structures all with public participation and active involvement of the communities. JSA 2019 was followed by the launch of “Catch the Rain” campaign in 2020 focusing on water conservation and rainwater harvesting. The overwhelming response received even during COVID, from the campaign encouraged the Ministry make it an annual event, commencing prior to the monsoon season and continuing for the next six months. Therefore, Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain campaigns were launched with an expanded scope for pan-India implementation in 2021 and 2022. The campaigns have been able to create a synergy in bringing together all stakeholders working on water conservation & water management. Buoyed by the success, The President of India launched “Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain-2023” on the theme ‘Source Sustainability for Drinking Water’, 4th in its series. Focused interventions of the JSA:CTR-2023 include consolidation of activities i.e. (1) water conservation and rainwater harvesting; (2) enumerating, geo-tagging & making inventory of all water bodies; preparation of scientific plans for water conservation based on it (3) setting up of Jal Shakti Kendras in all districts (4) intensive afforestation and (5) awareness generation.
While addressing the august gathering Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat congratulated the awardees and thanked each woman who had been part of water & sanitation efforts in the country. He said, “Jal Shakti Abhiyan was launched in 2019, inspired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s mantra of water harvesting and I’m proud to inform you that till date, more than 46 lakh water conservation and water harvesting works have been done in urban and rural areas. More than 36 crore saplings have been planted. More than 43 thousand training campaigns and agricultural fairs have been organized. 374 Jal Shakti Kendras have been established. All this would not have been possible without the contribution of our women”. He added that the work done by our sisters in building a new India is invaluable. Women, especially in rural areas, have set excellent examples in field of water and sanitation. We know and understand that the empowerment of a woman paves the way for the transformation of a family and beyond that of the entire society and country. Minister said, “On this occasion, I would like to express my gratitude to our Prime Minister for understanding the suffering of crores of women of the country, and inspiring us to start historic campaigns like Swachh Bharat Mission and Jal Jeevan Mission and presenting a unique example of women empowerment to the world. This has brought us today to more than two lakh villages being declared ODF Plus and more than 11.30 crore rural households getting pure drinking water”.
Shri Bishweswar Tudu, MoS for Jal Shakti and Tribal Affairs in his speech applauded the women champions and how women were making significant contributions to all Government programmes. He also mentioned that Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain had created immense awareness amongst the masses about importance of water conservation and brought together all stakeholders in a mass movement to conserve and recharge water.
Sh. Prahlad Singh Patel, MoS for Jal Shakti and Food Processing Industries in his speech exhorted all to make “Swachhta” as resolve and the goal of their lives and take lessons from the women WASH heroes felicitated at the event, “There cannot be Jal Shakti without Nari Shakti’, he added. Minister of State further stressed the importance of grey water management in rural areas.
A total of 36 awards were conferred under SBM-G, JJM and NWM by the President of India and Union Minister of Jal Shakti under the following categories:
- Swachh Bharat Mission – Grameen (SBM – G)
- Making the village ODF Plus Model
- GOBARdhan/Bio-degradable Waste and/or Plastic Waste Management
- Greywater Management and/or Faecal Sludge Management
- Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM)
- Women change-makers in the category of O&M of piped water supply
- National Water Mission (NWM)
- Jal Shakti Abhiyan – Catch the Rain
- Water Warriors
Secretary, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Smt. Vini Mahajan welcomed the dignitaries and congratulated the women WASH champions present at the event. Ms. Mahajan said that the achievement of more than 2 lakhs ODF Plus villages and piped water supply to more than 11 crore rural households has been possible only with the leadership and commitment of the women. Ms. Mahajan highlighted that “Be it Rani Mistri, Jeevika didi, Swachhagrahi, ASHA didi, Anganwadi didi, Jal Sahiya, Kishori samiti didi and enumerable other roles, it’s the women who with their leadership and dedication have played such an important role in the success of all the development schemes and programs of the country”.
Gracing the occasion were Minister of State for Communications Sh. Devusinh Jesingbhai Chauhan and Sh. Shrawan Kumar, Minister of Rural Development and Parliamentary Affairs, Govt. of Bihar. The event was attended by dignitaries across the States/UTs i.e. Ministers, Central/State/UT Government Officials, grass root WASH workers, Sector Partners, Development Partners, members of Rural Wash Partner Forum (RWPF), Key Resource Centres (KRCs), women representatives from Civil Society Organizations and WASH sector, etc.