Populism has been the poll jackpot in Odisha politics for a long. Of late, a change in air has been sensed by the political radars here. The signals allude to battleground 2024, where the pitched battle will be on ‘pitcher’ entitlement. The launch of Sujal Mission in Puri by CM Naveen Patnaik drops the hint when PM Narendra Modi-led BJP is all-out making Jal Jeevan Mission another trump card, after Ujjwala.
Therefore, watch for the titanic clash between Jal Jeevan and Sujal in 2024. The worth watching will be who is going to uncork the bubbling water after polls.
Post the landslide win in 2019, on August 15, 2019, PM Narendra Modi had announced the launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission with an objective to provide clean drinking water to all households by the year 2024. And an allocation of Rs 3.5 lakh crore was announced to take up the potable water scheme on a mission mode.
Significantly, on October 13, 2020, CM Naveen Patnaik launched the Sujal Mission with an objective to provide 24X7 drink from tap quality water to every household in Urban Odisha. There is a plan to cover the 114 urban local bodies in the State, though in a phased manner.
After making good progress under JJM-Rural, the Union Budget 2021-22 announced Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban) to bring safe water to 2.86 crore households through tap connection. It has included Bhubaneswar under its pilot scheme.
Interestingly, on July 26, 2021, CM Patnaik inaugurated the ‘Sujal-Drink From Tap Mission’ in Puri. The official release of the State government claimed that Puri becomes the first city in the country to avail of quality drinking water suitable for consumption from the tap.
Piped Water Supply In Odisha – A Reality Check
As per Odisha Economic Survey 2020-21, while a total of 3.11 lakh households or nearly 3.7 per cent of rural households in the State have access to the piped water supply at the end of March 2020. The State govt claimed to have covered 68 per cent of the urban population under piped water supply.
In contrast, as per NSSO report on ‘Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Conditions in India- 2019’, hand pump has been the main source of drinking water for a high of 56 per cent urban households in Odisha.
The data with the Ministry of Jal Shakti shows that not a single district in Odisha has achieved the distinction of Har Ghar Jal. The access to piped water supply in rural Odisha is very pathetic.
Take the instance of Puri.
- The district has a total of 3.22 lakh rural households.
- Till 2019 end, only over 0.02 lakh had a tap water connection.
The pitcher politics in Odisha will be on the boil soon. Like BJP – BJD face-off over PM Awas Yojana day in and out, a tussle is soon on the anvil over the pitcher.
With the ruling BJD going gung ho over the Sujal Mission, the State BJP is also getting ready to take a plunge by launching a mass contact programme to inform voters about the faster outreach of tap water connections under the Jal Jeevan Mission launched by PM Narendra Modi.
Jal Jeevan Mission – Reality Check
According to the data available with the Ministry of Jal Shakti, before the launch of Jal Jeevan Mission (Rural), Odisha had 83.06 lakh households, but only 3.11 lakh had access to the piped water supply.
Post the launch of JJM to date, the households in the State had increased to 85.67 lakh, but in a span of 3-years, tap connections have been given to a whopping 22.94 lakh households. Data shows in the percentage terms, JJM has provided tap water connections to 26.78 per cent of rural households in the State as against 3.74 per cent prior to JJM.
A glance at the district-wise data shows that Nuapada district is on the verge of achieving the distinction of ‘Har Ghar Jal’ district by March-end 2021. Prior to JJM, the district with a total of 1.41 lakh households had no single household having access to tap water connection. However, after the launch to date, a massive 1.05 lakh rural households have access to the piped water supply in the district.
The slow progressing districts are: Sundargarh, Bargarh, Balangir, Boudh, Gajapati, Kalahandi, Koraput, Malkangiri and Rayagada. In these districts, the rural piped water supply outreach has been below 30 per cent.