Centre asks States to prepare district plans for drinking water security

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, February 20, 2010

The Centre has told all State Governments and Union Territory (UT) Administrations to draw up a preliminary District Perspective Plan to ensure drinking water security in the rural areas of the country.

Recognising that village-level planning, including water, is key factor in ensuring optimum utilisation of water, especially for drinking purposes, a format has been prepared and sent by the Department of Drinking Water Supply under the Ministry of Rural Development to all the States and UTs for their suggestions.

An official press release said the proposed Plan would be on the basis of the revised National Rural Drinking Water Program (NRDWP) Guidelines 2009-2012 issued by the Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission, Department of Drinking Water Supply.

The focus would be on development of a "village water security plan". It also includes village water safety plan before taking up planning and installation of water supply system to ensure provision of safe and adequate water supply to each rural household at a convenient location on a sustainability basis.

The Gram Panchayat (GP), Village Water Supply Committee (VWSC) and the field staff of State Rural Water Supply Department would be enabled to prepare the Village Water Supply Plan (VWSP) as per the new guideline and as per the existing institutional set up in the States, the release said.

It is proposed to identify a "Jal Surakshak" for Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance at the household level and at the habitation level. The person would preferably be a woman from VWSC elected at Gram Sabha under the control of GP and paid appropriately on job basis for data collection for the specified activities.

The release said a Water Quality Testing Laboratory with computer facilities would be set up at the sub-division level for testing of all the drinking water sources in villages from where the households collects water. The proposal also envisages that GPS instruments would be procured for identification of water resources in the villages for development of village water resource maps. The Jal Surakshak would also collect water and sanitation related data from the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) so that sanitary inspection can be carried out for identification of source of contamination and take remedial measures.

Household and village data analyzed at the sub-division level along with data from NRHM will enable the VWSC under the technical guidance of field staff of the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) to prepare the village water security plan, which includes the water safety plan. This will basically identify the source of contamination and take corrective measures for the existing water supply system. Based on the village water security plan, an action plan for a new system or augmentation of the existing water supply scheme will be prepared in consultation with all stakeholders.

According to the release, the concept of having a local woman as the "Jal Surakshak" is based on the premise that it is the women who generally manage domestic water, and an essential ingredient of community participation is to improve women’s involvement in the democratic decision-making process.

Since women are the principal beneficiaries of this programme and are the pivot around which sustainability is evolved, it is of critical importance that women are involved at all the stages of planning, implementation and management of rural water supply schemes, it said.

Women’s associations could provide a strong framework for community participation and prominent women from the habitation should be represented in the VWSCs. For the community to function as an organization it is important to make the VWSC fully functional and effective. The VWSC should be made a standing committee of the Gram Panchayat, it added.