Morning hours are time for gratitude for Munni Devi. A resident of Kolar village of Umariya district of Madhya Pradesh, her morning hours are busy like any other village woman, but she is very particular with her prayer routine.The deck is ready for prayers, and soon her tiny house is filled with the fragrance of incense, and fresh flowers, and as Munni Bai puts tilak on the ‘tap’, her head bows with thankfulness and devotion. The well decked tap is no less than a God’s idol to her as it brings water from the holy river ‘Son’, which is like little Ganga for her. Earlier she used to travel 150 Kilometres to Amarkantak (origin of the river) in a year or two for religious rituals but now the same river water post treatment is supplied to her through household tap connection.
The Jal Jeevan Mission implemented by Ministry of Jal Shakti in partnership with States aims to provide adequate drinking water of prescribed quality on regular and long-term basis to every rural household in the country by 2024. In a bid to provide adequate drinking water to all rural households in the State, the Centre has allocated Rs 1,280 Crore for the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in Madhya Pradesh in 2020-21.
Out of 1.21 Crore rural households in the State, 13.52 lakh have provided tap connections, while the State government plans to provide tap water connections to 26.7 lakh homes in 2020-21. So far, 5.5 lakh tap connections have been provided.
Munni Bai’s Kolar village has 271 households. Agriculture and animal husbandry are main sources of livelihood in the village. The village has one Primary School and one Aaganwadi centre. Earlier, main source of drinking water for the villagers was a tube well and hand pumps, which usually went dry in summer season compounding the water woes of the villagers. “Before this tap connection I had to bring water from a nearby well and during summer season I used to walk 1-2 kms in the scorching heat to fetch drinking water”- says Munni Bai. The harsh summers and paucity of water has been one of the detriments of mass exodus from rural and tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh. The absence of tap connections affected the lives of many women & girls in the area, thereby, resulting in poor quality of life and higher dropout rate of girls in the schools. Water scarcity at times was so grave that it compelled the villagers to resort to open defecation, as enough water was not available.
As solution to water scarcity and to provide a sustainable drinking water scheme, MP Jal Nigam (MPJNM) executed a multi village rural water supply scheme based on surface water sources. Madhya Pradesh Jal Nigam Maryadit (MPJNM) is implementing a multi village water supply scheme (MVS) covering 19 villages of Manpur Block of Umariya district of Madhya Pradesh. This MVS is providing treated drinking water for approximate population of 61,294 through tap water connections. Manpur Multi Village Rural Water Supply scheme is one of the schemes providing sufficient drinking water to rural households. From the learnings and reviews of previously implemented rural drinking water programme in the state and in the country, it is realised that the community participation is equally important for success of rural drinking water supply schemes. MPJNM is taking measures for involving community in every level of scheme implementation.
Entry point activities like Jan Sabha, Gram-Sabha, Street Plays, School Rallies- organized by hiring services of NGOs as partnering bodies, are mobilising the village communities for their active partnership.
As an institution requirement for community participation a village level institution “Village Water & Sanitation Committee (VWSC)” is formed with the objective ‘to organise, involve and develop a sense of ownership in stakeholders’. VWSC is formed by villagers in a meeting of Gram Sabha and after the approval of Gram Sabha. The NGO partner facilitated the whole process. As per rules for formation of VWSC, the composition of VWSC ensured an equal participation of all the section of villagers like participation of 50% women, inclusion of SC/ ST and marginalized sections, and representation of elected members of Gram Panchayat. VWSC has become an authorized body for operation and maintenance of water supply scheme within the village.
The VWSC of village Kolar at present has 16 members, out of which 8 are women. VWSC is also advising, putting peer pressure and taking indicative action against households misusing water. VWSC Kolar, so far has collected Rs. 11,000 as security and new connection charges from 95 households and also started collecting Rs. 80 per month per household as water tariff. Now, Munni bai and other women are coming out of their plight of drudgery and hardship.
Jal Jeevan Mission is reaching an ‘inflection point’ as this tribal village in Madhya Pradesh has shown the way that the local community has the confidence to manage water supply as well as take care of O&M within the villages, which will have a demonstrative effect on other villages to come forward and manage their water resources as well as water supply on sustainable basis. This silent revolution happening in remote villages speaks volume of the role of local community in effective natural resource management. Jal Jeevan Mission in true sense is proving to develop responsive and responsible leadership at grass-root level.
This is the real empowerment of people, which has been envisaged under Jal Jeevan Mission. The local community needs to shoulder the responsibility of planning, implementation, management, operation & maintenance of water supply schemes in villages, so that drinking water supply can be provided to every rural household on regular and long-term basis.