Sindrath village, near Rajasthan’s Sirohi town, 410 km from Jaipur, is buzzing with excitement. Homes have started getting tap supply of potable water, sparing women long queues at the community tank and taps every day. “I have spent most of my 21 years of marriage waiting in queues for water,’’ says Jyotsna Purohit, 38. Now, with supply right at their doorstep, her 17-year-old daughter Aruna hopes to find more time for studies. The water crisis in Sindrath began 20 years ago as its rising population increased the pressure on groundwater.
Rising fluoride content in the water rendered most borewells useless. A ray of hope emerged in 2019 with the ‘Har Ghar Nal Se Jal’ programme under the Centre-state funded Jal Jeevan Mission. The project aims to bring a functional household tap connection (FHTC) to every rural household by 2024. Sindrath is among the 397 Rajasthan villages where FHTCs have reached every home. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot has directed officials to ensure that 10 million households in 43,000 villages are covered by the 2024 deadline.
Under the programme, the Centre also envisages FHTCs for rural institutions, such as schools and anganwadis, in return for a service charge based on usage and maintenance cost. ‘Har Ghar Nal Se Jal’ mandates source sustainability measures such as rainwater harvesting, water recharging and grey water management.
To get tap water, each of the 525 families in Sindrath has paid Rs 1,000 as part of the 5 per cent contribution by households to the Rs 1.18 crore cost. The panchayat pays another 5 per cent. The village committee will decide one-time file charges and the government monthly charges. “Engineers are testing the supply for adequate pressure and volume. Supply hours will be worked out for different clusters within the village before a monthly bill is arrived at,” says Shiv Raj Singh, the sarpanch.
‘Har Ghar Nal Se Jal’ raises the hope of liberating thousands from the daily grind of trudging long distances for water. “I belong to the desert region and know how empowering it is for families to get water supply at home,’’ says Gehlot. Toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission gave a massive boost to the self-esteem of many families in Sindrath. The Jal Jeevan Mission is another game-changer that may bring economic empowerment. Jyotsna says she will use the time saved from water queues to take up tailoring and earn some extra money.