The SWAJAL Scheme, which is an initiative of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, seeks to provide water to 115 Indian districts to help them in meeting their basic needs such as drinking, cooking and other domestic essentials. The project is expected to incur a cost of INR 700 crores through flexi-funds under the existing National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) budget. This article covers the initiative in detail.
The project has been launched with the vision of providing sustainable and adequate drinking water in an integrated manner to the rural populous on a pilot basis.
The following are the objectives of this project:
- Offer sustainable health and hygiene benefits to the rural populous by improving water supply and environmental sanitation services.
- Test an alternative to the existing supply-driven mechanism.
- Enhance rural incomes through time-saving mechanisms.
- Promote sanitation and gender awareness.
- Promote the long-term sustainability of rural water supply and sanitation sectors by identifying and implementing a suitable policy framework and strategic plan for the sector.
The majority of the expenditure, i.e. 90% of the project cost will be borne by the Government, while the rest will be contributed by the beneficiary community.
The project supports a wide range of investments for rural water supply and environmental sanitation services through community development and construction activities, which includes the following:
Community Development Activities
- Capacity-building activities like community mobilization/organization through workshops, group discussion, information campaigns and participatory community action planning, training and non-formal education.
- Hygiene and environmental sanitation awareness through training and women development initiatives such as orientation and training to assist women.
- Assistance in planning, implementing and maintaining the water supply.
- Implementation of environmental sanitation schemes.
- Encouraging participation in resource mobilization activities like collection of user charges, monitoring and evaluation.
- Construction, augmentation and rehabilitation of water supply and environmental sanitation schemes such as spring/stream gravity, tube wells with handpumps/electric pumps, and stream pumping.
- Protection of the catchment area through activities such as the establishment of tree nurseries, reforestation, alternate energy sources to fuelwood, erosion control and other site-specific programs.
- Construction of community drains.
- Construction of household human waste disposal facilities.
- Environmental management through activities such as the construction of filtration structures for community ponds, solid waste disposal and mosquito and fly control.
The project will initially be implemented in six states, which includes Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar under the parent project, NRDWP. It will be converged with other programs like MGNREGS, PMKSY etc
The following strategies are to be adopted for achieving the project objectives:
- Demand-driven approach for sustainability
- Community participation
- Women Empowerment
- Setting up of Support Organizations (SOs) to provide single window assistance
- Integrated approach
- Continuous training
The Government has shortlisted 115 backward districts for rapid transformation by 2022. These districts have been selected based on six socio-economic parameters dealing with agriculture and water resources, education, health and nutrition, financial inclusion and skill development, and basic infrastructure.
The districts so selected includes 35 districts affected by Left Wing Extremists (LWE) violence, 55 districts recently affected by LWE violence and another 15 including the districts of Jammu and Kashmir and northeast.