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Modi's tap water scheme implemented 'only on paper' in Gujarat's backward tribal district

By Our Representative 

Is the backward Dang district of Gujarat deprived of Nal Se Jal scheme, a flagship programme of the Union government to provide potable water to all 18 lakh villages, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day in 2019? Under the scheme villagers will themselves decide how much to pay for the water they consume, it seeks to provide a minimum of 55 litres of water per person per day.
Said to have been inspired by Gujarat “model”, where the government claims to be providing potable tap water to 79% of the state’s households via the Water and Sanitation Management Organisation. a letter addressed to Modi by a civil rights leader, Jatin Sheth of the Nagrik Sashaktikaran Manch (NSS), says, the scheme has been implemented in paper in the district.
While taps have been “commissioned”, water supply arrangements are “missing” in as many as 50 villages of Dang, which happens to be predominantly tribal, he says.
Forwarding the list of the 50 villages for Modi’s perusal, Sheth insists, the district collector should be asked to make “water supply arrangements by tankers urgently” in order to “address immediate needs of the families to reduce the severe drudgery of tribal women”, who have to “walk 1-2 kms to fetch water from dug wells.”
Pointing out that even “hand pumps also not working” in Dang villages, Sheth says, while the scheme itself is “very sensible”, as it would help reduce the drudgery of women to fetch drinking water for the family, “It seems from the plight of these villages that the authorities/officers responsible for implementation of the scheme are implementing in on paper only.”
“Here, in most villages, taps have been installed but water supply arrangements have not not been made”, the letter says, pointing out, in the 50 villages Dang, a hilly district, water scarcity is “beyond one’s imagination”, adding, not only tribal women have to walk a distance to get potable water from dug wells and ponds, “The quality of water is absolutely unsafe for drinking.”
Sheth continues, “It is an irony that Dang is known as Cherapunji of Gujarat, where the season’s average annual rainfall is 2,500 mm or even more, and yet people suffer from acute water shortage.” Releasing photographs he has forwarded to Modi, he adds, “The pictures posted here speak very well about the plight of these families, particularly of women and young girls who have to leave their study to bring water for the family.”
Sheth has forwarded a copy of the letter, among others, to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and concerned officials of the Government of India and the state government.

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