The Centre has set a target of providing clean drinking water to every household by 2024, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said on Tuesday. He said that the government has already begun formulating a plan to provide clean drinking water to nearly 14 crore households across the country.
"The prime minister has set a target and our party manifesto talks about providing clean drinking water by 2024. There are nearly 14 crore households where clean drinking water is yet to reach," Mr Shekhawat told reporters in Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his election campaign, had promised to integrate all ministries that look after water-related issues into one ministry - the Jal Shakti Ministry. The BJP had also promised to provide clean drinking water to all households in the country.
He said in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha, the coverage of clean drinking water is less than five per cent. Mr Shekhawat went on to say that currently around 81 per cent of total habitations in the country have drinking water supply.
The minister, however, did not respond to the question on when the project will be formally launched.
Water falls under the state list of the Constitution and participation of states is crucial to make the mission of providing clean drinking water a success.
Mr Shekhawat held discussions with officials and ministers from several states looking after water-related issues. Addressing them, the minister said there has to be a holistic approach towards water supply and demand. He also urged the state governments to integrate water-related work under a single department.
The minister said there was no representation from West Bengal in the meeting. He said an emphasis will also be made on water conservation, citing the widening gap between water supply and demand.
Drinking and Sanitation Water Secretary Parmeswaran Iyer said the meeting was the first ministerial level meeting to discuss the subject. Elaborating on the plan, he said states can use groundwater or surface water depending on the situation in the state.
"One point, the minister has been emphasising is that we need a very flexible approach because one size cannot fit all," Mr Iyer said. It will be an approach where water conservation will go together with water supply. Source sustainability will be the key to the mission besides recharging groundwater, he added.
"There will be third-party verification and the funds will be released by the government. All these details are being worked out," the official added.