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New Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with Gram Panchayats and Pani Samitis / Village Water and Sanitation Committees (VWSC) on Jal Jeevan Mission October 2, 2021, through video conference. He launched the Jal Jeevan Mission App for improving awareness among stakeholders and for greater transparency and accountability of schemes under the Mission. He also launched Rashtriya Jal Jeevan Kosh, where any individual, institution, corporation, or philanthropist, be it in India or abroad, can contribute to help provide tap water connection in every rural household, school, Anganwadi centre, ashram shala, and other public institutions.

Along with members of Gram Panchayats and Pani Samitis, Union Ministers Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Prahlad Singh Patel,  Bishweswar Tudu, Chief Ministers, and Ministers from states were present.

Interacting with the Samitis, Modi inquired from Girijakant Tiwari of Umaree village in Banda District of Uttar Pradesh about the impact of Jal Jeevan mission in his village. Tiwari informed that now safe and clean water is available and has improved the lives of women of the village. The PM asked Tiwari whether his villagers believed that they would get piped water connection and how they feel now.Tiwari talked about the collective effortsat the village for the mission. He informed that every household has toilets at the village and everyone is using them.

The Prime Minister praised the villagers of Bundelkhand for their dedication and said that Women are getting empowered and getting their due dignity through schemes like PM AWAS, Ujjwalla and Jal Jeevan Mission, according to a PIB release.

Modi asked Rameshbhai Patel of Pipli, Gujara,t about the availability of water at his village. He also asked whether the quality of the water is checked regularly. Rameshbhai informed that quality is good and women of the village have been trained to check the quality. The Prime Minister asked whether people pay for the drinking water. Rameshbhai informed that the value of water is very clear to the villages and there is a willingness to pay for it.

The PM asked about the use of sprinklers and drip irrigation in saving the water. The PM was informed that innovative irrigation techniques are being used in the village. Modi, referring to Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0, said that people have given massive support to the mission for cleanliness and he hoped the same success for the Jal Jeevan Mission.

Modi inquired from Kaushalya Rawat of  Uttarakhand about the availability of water before and after the Jal Jeevan mission. She also informed that tourists have started coming to their village and staying in homestay after the availability of water through the Jal Jeevan mission. Shet informed that her village is fully vaccinated. The Prime Minister praised her and the villages for adopting sustainable practices like forestation, improving tourism, and homestay.

The PM inquired from Sudha, Vellery, Tamil Nadu ,about the impact of Jal Jeevan mission. She informed that after the mission all the houses have got piped drinking water connection. He also inquired about the world-famous Arni silk saree production atn her village. The PM also asked whether piped drinking water connection has saved her time for other household activities.Sudha informed that the availability of water has improved their life and they have time for other productive activities. She informed the activities done by her village for saving rainwater like construction of check dams, ponds, etc. The Prime Minister termed the adoption of the water mission by the people a major step in the direction of the empowerment of women.

Interacting with Laithanthem Sarojini Devi ji of Manipur, Modi was informed that earlier water was available only at a great distance and in long queues. Now the situation has improved as all households have piped water. She also informed that becoming ODF and fully covered village has led to better health at the village. She also informed that regular testing of water quality is a norm at her village, and five women have been trained to do that. The Prime Minister said that the government is working consistently for bringing Ease of Living in the lives of people. He expressed satisfaction that real change is happening in the Northeast.

Addressing the gathering, Modi said villages were part of the hearts of Bapu and Lal Bahadur Shastri. He expressed happiness that on this day, people from lakhs of villages across the country are organising ‘Jal Jeevan Samvad’ in the form of ‘Gram Sabhas’.

The PM said the vision of Jal Jeevan Mission is not just to make water accessible to the people. This is also a big movement of decentralisation. “This is a village-driven- women-driven Movement. Its main base is a mass movement and public participation,” he said.  The Prime Minister recalled that Gandhiji used to say that the real meaning of ‘Gram Swaraj’ is to be full of self-confidence. “That’s why it has been my constant effort that this thinking of Gram Swaraj should move forward towards accomplishments,” Modi said.

Modi recalled measure taken during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat for Gram Swaraj such as , Nirmal Gaon for ODF villages, Jal Mandir Abhiyan to revive old Baories and wells in villages, Jyotirgram for 24 hour electricity in villages, Teerth Gram for camaraderie in villages, e-Gram for broadband in villages.

Referring to popular conceptions of the problem of water, the PM talked of movies, stories, poems that tell in detail how the women and children of the village walked miles to fetch water. In the minds of some people, this picture emerges as soon as the name of the village is taken. Modi asked why so few people think about the question: why do these people have to go to some river or pond every day, after all, why does the water not reach these people?

“I think those who had the responsibility of policy-making for a long time, should have asked themselves this question,” the Prime Minister remarked. The Prime Minister said that perhaps the earlier policy-makers did not realise the importance of water as they came from water abundant areas. Modi said, coming from a state like Gujarat, he has seen drought conditions and knows the importance of every drop of water.

The PM said from independence till 2019, only 3 crore households in our country had access to tap water. Since the launch of Jal Jeevan Mission in 2019, 5 crore households have been connected with water connections. Today, water is reaching every household in about 1.25 lakh villages in about 80 districts of the country. In the Aspirational districts the number of tap connections have increased from 31 lakh to 1.16 crore. He noted that in just two years, more work has been done than was done in the last seven decades.

The Prime Minister enumerated measures to improve the health and safety of the daughters of the country. He informed that measures like toilets in every home and school, affordable sanitary pads, nutrition support during pregnancy and immunisation have strengthened the ‘Matra Shakti’. He informed that most of the 2.5 crore houses constructed in the villages are in the name of women, Ujjwala has relieved women of smoke-filled life. Women are being integrated with atma nirbharta mission via Self Help Groups and these groups have increased three fold in the last seven years. He also informed that there has been 13 times increase in the last seven years in support to women under National Livelihood Mission as compared to five preceding years to 2014.