In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure clean tap water supply to children in schools, Anganwadi centres and ashram shalas (residential schools), the Modi government on 2 October 2020 launched a campaign to make provision of tap water supply in these institutions.
In less than ten months since the launch of this campaign, provision of tap water has been made in 6.85 lakh (66 per cent) schools, 6.80 lakh (60 per cent) Anganwadi centres (AWCs) and 2.36 lakh (69 per cent) Gram Panchayats and Community Healthcare Centres (CHCs) in villages across India.
Due to unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene, children are susceptible to water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, etc.
Repeated infections due to unsafe water and poor sanitation in children’s formative years may lead to adverse health effects like stunting.
In areas where water sources are contaminated with Arsenic, Fluoride, heavy metals, etc., prolonged consumption of contaminated water may lead to serious health issues.
Therefore, under this campaign, the tap water supply of prescribed quality is being provided for drinking and cooking mid-day meals, handwashing, and toilets of schools and Anganwadi centres.
“Once schools and ashram shalas open, safetap water to children will greatly contribute in their better health, improved sanitation and improved hygiene,” the Ministry of Jal Shakti said.
To ensure safe tap water to children, on 29 September 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to all States and UTs, to reach every school and Anganwadi centre with tap water connection on a priority basis.
Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat launched a 100-days campaign on 2 October 2020 to bring awareness and a sense of urgency to provide clean drinking water to children across the country.
National Jal Jeevan Mission reached out to States/ UTs to ensure that Gram Sabhas are convened and resolutions passed to provide safe water in all schools, ashram shalas, Anganwadi centres, Gram Panchayat buildings and healthcare and wellness centres.
“To ensure water availability and treatment of used water, in 91.9 thousand schools, rain water harvesting and in 1.05 lakh schools, grey water management systems have been put in place. This will not only boost the water availability but also create awareness among children and inspire them to learn water management in their growing stage,” the ministry said.
The water supply facilities created under Jal Jeevan Mission will be operated and maintained by the Gram Panchayat or its sub-committee, i.e. Village Water and Sanitation Committee or Paani Samiti.
The Jal Jeevan Mission announced by the Prime Minister on 15 August 2019 from the Red Fort is under implementation in partnership with States/ UTs to provide tap water connection to every rural household of the country by 2024. The total outlay of the mission is Rs 3.60 lakh crore.