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Jal Jeevan Mission

Shortlisted for Creating Resilient & Sustainable Communities Award

Project Background

Jal Jeevan Mission - Rural Water Supply "HAR GHAR JAL HAR GHAR NAL", the flagship project of Government of India aims to provide a functional tap connection to every house in India.

Over the years several programmes have been introduced to address water supply coverage in India. However, many of the solutions were underdeveloped and lacked proper execution. Subsequently, poor operation and management systems combined with limited community collaboration has caused rural water supply to fall into a state of disrepair.

SMEC has been involved in the planning and project management of the project across 4 different states, setting new technical benchmarks that are sustainable, innovative, and cost-effective. The framework has been developed in a way that can be easily replicated across geographical locations for efficient implementation.

The objective of the project is to develop and provide support to the implementing agencies to effectively implement water supply schemes to the inhabitants of the villages through an overarching Detailed Project Report (DPR). To achieve the objectives of the project and consulting services, the SMEC’s guiding principles are:

  • QUALITY of the data, information, and analysis

  • PARTICIPATION, consultation, and formulation with the key stakeholders

  • CREDIBILITY based on a synthesis of outputs, judgments, and decisions

  • CLARITY in the presentations, discussions, and reports

  • SUSTAINABILITY through acceptability and knowledge transfer.
     

The challenge:

Assam

No of Villages under the DPR: 364

Assam is still dependent on water from rain, streams, and rivers for drinking and other domestic purposes. These sources have proven to be unsafe. Access to safe drinking water and the status of sanitation & hygiene in Assam is substantially less than the national average. Assam has 63.35 lakh rural households, out of which only 6.67 lakh (10.75%) are getting tapped water supply. Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) is the main government agency which is responsible for water supply. However, many international NGOs, private organisations, and individuals fulfil the daily demand of the rural population by utilising ground water sources through dug wells. Soils are reported to contain contamination from toxic chemicals such as fluoride.

Uttar Pradesh

No of Villages under the DPR: 1,389

The Bundelkhand and Vindhya regions in Uttar Pradesh, India, are some of the most water-scarce areas in the country. Only around 19% of the rural population in UP have access to piped water supply schemes. Several people are forced to walk long distances to obtain water which may not be available in absolute quantity or of prescribed quality, leading to water-borne diseases. More than 37% of ground or surface water in rural habitations is contaminated.

Karnataka

No of Villages under the DPR: 2,467

Groundwater quality is a serious problem in more than half of the villages of districts such as Bagalkot, Bijapur, Chamarajnagar. The Union ministry of water resources shows that 43% of 59,774 rural habitations don’t have full drinking water coverage. Of 59,774 rural habitations in Karnataka, 34,345 (57%) have full coverage, while 24,977 (41%) have partial access less than 40 litres per day while the remaining habitations get contaminated water. The districts water supply is also affected by toxicities including:

  • Fluoride in 14 districts for 10-67% of total habitations.

  • Brackishness in 13 districts for 10-27% of total habitations,

  • Nitrate in 8 districts for 10-51% of total habitations

  • Iron in 12 districts for 10-63% of total habitations

Rajasthan

No of Villages under the DPR: 31,000

Rajasthan is dependent on ground water, but sources are affected by fluoride, nitrate, and salinity. Currently, only 1.16% of surface water and 1.70% of ground water is available for consumption with 12.2% households having a piped water supply. The state is considered a dry state with nearly 70% of the area classified as arid and semi-arid region.

To fill this enormous gap and address the significant health, social and economic issues arising from a lack of access to clean water, the Government planned multi-village and regional water supply schemes to improve water supply coverage and provide all rural households with 70lpcd water supply through piped connection. Certain projects were identified as a priority due to being impacted by disease caused by drinking arsenic and fluoride contaminated groundwater.

The Solution

For the project, SMEC has prepared and implemented detailed project reports to frame Jal Jeevan’s roll out in each geographical region. The project reports focus on improving health and living standards in 20 districts (area: 2700sqkm) pan India.

The detailed project reports consisted of proposals for complex water schemes including surveying, engineering design, analysis of ground and surface water sources, water allocation and environmental assessment. The detailed project reports adopted three principals:  

  • Sustainability of the system at design, operation, and management stages

  • Technical and management innovations to deliver the best outputs

  • Strict adherence to the prescribed specifications, timeline, and budget.

The proposed methodology was based on profound knowledge, gained from delivering similar Water Supply sector projects in the past and familiarity with the local region and regulations. SMEC carried out additional work for census towns beyond its scope of services and submitted two additional final DPRs in the interest of the project and the rural population beneficiaries.

The roll out has required coordination of multidisciplinary teams and wide-ranging stakeholder consultation activity, also extending support to the State Water and Sanitation Mission. Milestones to date include delivery of the inception report and development of the final DPR Clusters.

Key activities for the detailed project reports included:

  • Topographical and geo-technical surveys based on assessment of the existing in-village infrastructure with respect to drinking water, existing road networks, institutional buildings, other water structures.

  • Robust population forecasting and demand estimation was undertaken. Data from 1971 to present day was obtained from the office of the Department of Census, Government of India, to help inform population projections.

  • Network analysis based on the topographical survey and actual number of households by using Water Gems, which includes requirement of new pipelines, appurtenances, and fittings, positioning of valves, and assessment of existing pipelines for suitability and justification for replacement of any existing pipelines.

  • The DPRs are prepared for each habitation and includes details such as topographic survey, water distribution networks (including house service connection with water meters & rate for flow control device), assessment of drainage, and road works including cost estimates. For a smoother and quicker work process, automation was adopted to generate the cost estimates.

  • DPR automation: A new automation tool was developed at Karnataka Phase II to reduce the time taken for bulk DPR production. SMEC identified variable fields for the report into a consolidated dataset, capturing information relating to demographics, census codes, road network lengths, existing assets, and infrastructure.

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Above: DPR Automation Process

Partnerships and Multi-disciplinary approach

SMEC has undertaken extensive engagement to ensure timely participation from key stakeholders, consultants and the community. This led to data and knowledge transfer between various stakeholders and the client, and vice versa for effective implementation. Key activities included:

  • Stakeholder consultation and regulatory engagement with village development officers to incorporate local perspectives

  • Procurement of consulting services to undertake drone surveys and asset mapping with GIS outputs

  • SMEC coordinated acquisition of water infrastructure from all government stakeholder’s for all 16 DPRs

  • SMEC prepared a detailed inventory of data collection from the government irrigation office

  • SMEC undertook partnership with UNICEF labs to assess water quality of potential water sources

Project Impact

The planned infrastructure investment determined by the DPR’s outlined above will impact an estimated 15million, providing over 3 million tap connections and a pipeline network of approximately 35,000sqkm.

Providing assured availability of potable water plays a vital role in human development. This project provides an opportunity to look out for future project partnering prospects to ensure long term investment and longevity.

Effective communication and coordination with various stakeholders involved in the project such as community, client, collaborators, and government, has brought great impact in accelerating positive change in terms of water in rural communities.

In addition to providing implementable engineering design solutions that will ensure safe drinking water to all rural households, it also contributes to wider social, economic and community benefits:

  • Promoting a sense of equality by improving conditions for socially excluded groups and women

  • Increasing environmental sustainability by promoting reduced/non-extraction of groundwater through source optimisation of surface water sources

  • Improved service delivery and economical solution for rural households to obtain drinking water on their doorstep

  • Improved health and nutrition for ~15 million population in 10,000+ villages

  • Reducing infant mortality and malnutrition caused due to water-borne diseases

  • Creating employment opportunities during the various stages of construction, operation and maintenance of assets, curbing the incessant migration.

Use of Technology in Monitoring:

With advent of smart technologies, it is possible to have centralized and continuous monitoring in real-time, using Geographic Information System (GIS) software. Use of data analytics will be used for various purposes by the utilities for smart management and better services. It could also be helpful for policy level interventions required for welfare measures. Other benefits include:

  • Use of GIS technology and IoT based sensors to monitor the status of functionality of assets

  • Use of HGM Maps for location of groundwater sources. GIS technology will help in pinpointing the location of existing water sources.

  • SMEC will compile a digital inventory of existing assets (e.g. hand pumps) so they can be overlaid onto a GIS map for planning of additional infrastructure or maintenance.

Impact on Women

Rural women and adolescent girls spend a lot of time and energy in getting minimum potable water for day-to-day use. This results in lack of participation of women in income generation opportunities, loss of school days and adverse health impacts. Women have been empowered to help lead the Jal Jeevan Mission in their villages, to help alleviate these burdens.

Delivering potable water supply to all households in the country by 2024 will not only substantially improve ease of living, but also improve health status, and empower women. Freeing women from the task of fetching water, which sometimes creates safety issues, will potentially provide them with opportunities to improve household welfare by market, home production, and other activities. It may bring about positive social and political behavioural change.

Achieving SDG Targets

By 2024, India is expected to meet its 100% Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) goal. The mission brings about a transformative shift from traditional linear water supply delivery to a model that encompasses a circular economy of water conservation. This model is in line with the Five “R” approach to water management: reduce, reuse, recycle, restore, and recharge and considers the entire water value chain, from the supply to consumers to the disposal of used water. The focus on increasing India's water capacity and improving infrastructure, accessibility and tech inclusion will make this program the most effective and sustainable solution for India's water problems.

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Conclusion

SMEC recognised the opportunity to utilise its global expertise in the water sector which could improve quality of life for millions of people in rural India. The project is among the transformative initiatives by Indian government. The Jal Jeevan Mission addresses the need for infrastructure for increased water demand based on population, agricultural and other water requirements in a more water sensitive planning approach for the overall economic growth of the country. For successful completion of the project, SMEC has gone far beyond the call of duty and contractual obligations to provide quality outputs and deliverables within timeframes.

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