The Meghalaya government received recognition for the way it has implemented the Jal Jeevan Mission, the central government project to provide all households in the country with piped water.
Today, on Gandhi Jayanti, President of India Droupadi Murmu conferred an award to Meghalaya for being one of the ‘Best Performing States’ in the implementation of the JJM. Public Health Engineering Minister Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar was on hand to receive the award.
Meghalaya was ranked second among states and Union territories in the ‘functionality assessment’.
The functionality assessment of tap connections was conducted by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Union Ministry of Jal Shakti, through a third party, i.e., Hindustan Thompson, in rural areas of all states/UTs, in 2022.
For ‘Har Ghar Jal’ (HGJ) status, Meghalaya ranked higher than Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Manipur, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Goa and other states. Meghalaya achieved HGJ status for 597 villages with close to 1,500 villages achieving 100 percent tap water coverage.
Despite the national accolade, Meghalaya’s implementation of the JJM has come in for severe criticism from pressure groups and the opposition, who have, on occasion, alleged gross corruption and poor implementation.
“Ensuring safe and adequate drinking water has been our government’s foremost priority and also one of the most difficult challenges,” Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma was quoted as saying. “At the initiation of the JJM in August 2019, only 4,500 of rural households had tap water connectivity whereas today over 2.53 lakh households have tapped water connection, a whopping 55-fold increase in coverage.”
Helping Meghalaya supply water to every household are the large water supply projects. Phase 1 of the Williamnagar Urban Water Supply Project was sanctioned recently at an estimated cost of around Rs 122 crore. Other important projects in the pipeline or underway include Phase 3 of the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme, the Nongstoin Urban Water Supply Project, the Greater Rymbai Water Supply Project and the Greater Ampati Water Supply project with a combined budget outlay of Rs 593 crore.