The Union Cabinet has approved modifications of the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) on 25 February 2010. The NRDWP addresses issues of coverage of uncovered and quality affected habitations, ensuring a safe source of water supply for every habitation round the year and facilitates transfer of management of local water supply to the PRI s. A Round table discussion held in October, 2009 with eminent experts, civil societyrepresentatives and officials of State Governments had recommended a review of allocation criteria for transferring funds to the States, which were considered by the Cabinet.
As per the mandate of the Government to bring development to the doorstep of the weakersections of society, the Cabinet approved a special weightage in fund allocation for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) dominated habitations and households. It also approved a realignment of the existing sector institutions to support the PRIs in fulfilling their responsibility by building their capacity to take up the task of management of drinking water supply systems from the village level upwards. Also recognizing that Desert Development Programme (DDP) areas receive lesser rainfall, Cabinet increased earmarking of funds for these areas to offset the low allocation to such areas due to lower population density. The DDP areas form more than 13% of the rural area of the country. Despite these changes, the allocations already communicated to all States will be protected in thecurrent financial year.
It was felt that more focus and funding was required to provide the inputs of communitymobilization for formation/activation of Village Water and Sanitation Committees (VWSC) and capacity building for Gram Panchayats (GPs) to enable fulfilment of their role in sustainable water supply and sanitation; water quality monitoring and managerial aspects of operation and maintenance of the water supply systems. Enhanced IE C activitiesfor awareness generation, technical support etc. at the district and block levels, covering 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats and six lakh VWS Cs is also required. It is now proposed to provideadditional support at the district and block level by providing assistance to States for strengthening the DWSMs and setting up support centers at the block level. Each Block Resource Center would be staffed with two to four grassroot level workers (depending on the number of Panchayats and population in the block area) entrusted with the task of continuous awareness generation, motivation and training of the GPs, VWSC and community members on water and sanitation issues.
To ensure proper reporting and transparency in working, all information is now proposed to be obtained on-line on the web-based Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) of the Department of Drinking Water Supply (www.ddws. gov.in). Work has already been initiated and States have been asked to update their records. The first step was to link the present habitations to census villages with assigned codes. Thereafter, the existing habitation data was to be verified and disaggregated upto the household level, alongwith information of status of water supply. This work has already been completed for majorityof the habitations. This basic data now forms the foundation for marking of the target habitations where drinking water projects would be taken up in the current year and also for perspective planning. The IMIS has been designed to actually list out habitations, schemes taken up, and physical and financial progress to be linked and information presented in the public domain for greater transparency.
(Courtesy : Grameen Bharat)