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Bihar tops the list of central Indian states in providing its rural population with access to tap water

The centre had kept a target of 2024 for the states to achieve the target of providing its rural population with potable water but Bihar is all set to complete it in 2021, a full three years ahead of the deadline set by the centre.

With the state elections just around the corner, Bihar as emerged as a leading state in central India in terms of completing its target of providing its rural population with tap water connections. As per a report published in Times of India, by next year, Bihar will have provided its 1.9 crore rural households with a drinking water supply and become the first amongst what are pejoratively referred as the BIMARU states (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) to accomplish the objective of ‘Har Ghar Jal’ under the central government’s Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM).

The centre had kept a target of 2024 for the states to achieve the target of providing its rural population with potable water but Bihar is all set to complete it in 2021, a full three years ahead of the deadline set by the centre.

The rapid work of granting access to drinking water for the Bihar’s population, a majority of which resides in rural areas, has provided with the ruling JD(U)-BJP alliance talking points to influence the voters and get their support for the coalition government in the forthcoming state elections.

Even before the announcement of the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) by the central government, Bihar was well on its way to provide the rural household with drinking water connection. As of now, 83 per cent of the total of 1.9 crore rural households identified by the Bihar government has been provided with a water connection. East Champaran has already achieved the slated target and 17 other districts have over 90 per cent of their households with tap water supply.

However, there are a few districts in Bihar which are far from achieving their target of covering the households with functional household tap connection (FHTC). The worst performers include Kishanganj, Katihar, Araria and Purnia.

It is expected that the access of clean and drinking water to a large number of Bihar residents will play a pivotal role in the forthcoming assembly polls. While other issues such as infrastructure development, better educational facilities, migrant crisis and jobs will be crucial issues for the upcoming assembly polls, the government would focus on its success of providing tap water connection which eluded rural households until recently.

Government aims to address the problem of drinking water with its JJM initiative

The Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) aims to provide clean, safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections by 2024 to all households in rural India. The programme will also implement source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, such as recharge and reuse through greywater management, water conservation, rainwater harvesting. The Jal Jeevan Mission will be based on a community approach to water and will include extensive Information, Education and communication as a key component of the mission. JJM envisions to stir a people’s movement, thereby making it everyone’s priority.

Tap water coverage of Indian states under Jal Jeevan Mission(Source: jaljeevanmission.gov.in)

As far as other states are concerned, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are set to complete the mission by 2022, 2023 and 2024 respectively. One of the important factors to consider here is that UP, MP and Rajasthan are significantly bigger states than Bihar. However, the coverage of households with FHTC is poor in these states, considering that their coverage is less than the national average (about 30 per cent) of rural households with FHTC under the JJM launched in August 2019.

Telangana, with 98 per cent coverage is the best performer and is expected to achieve its target in the next few months. The tiny state of Goa claims to have already covered its target of 100 per cent FHTC this month. According to the JJM timeline, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim will cover all of their rural households by 2022 while Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Chhattisgarh will achieve their target by 2023. Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and West Bengal will reach their goal of 100 per cent FHTC by 2024.

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