The alarming water crisis in the country has led the government to put its best foot forward. It has launched several programmes for conservation and management of water resources, including the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), the Smart Cities Mission (SCM), the Namami Gange programme and the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). The latest addition to the list is the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), which aims to provide tap water to all rural households by 2024. Besides, the government has also increased its budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) by 18 per cent to support multiple schemes.
Indian Infrastructure tracks the remarkable progress made by the key flagship programmes of the government…
Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban
The nationwide cleanliness campaign, the SBM was started by the government in 2014 with the aim of ending open defecation in the country. Under Union Budget 2020-21, the SBM was allocated Rs 123 billion in order to sustain the current open defecation free (ODF) behaviour by moving towards better waste management. However, the budgetary allocations for SBM-Urban declined by Rs 3.5 billion, to Rs 23 billion in 2020-21.
In October 2019, SBM-Urban achieved its target of making urban India ODF. The urban areas of 34 states and union territories have become ODF. In all, 4,320 cities have declared themselves ODF. As of December 2019, about 6.13 million household toilets and 0.58 million community and public toilets have been constructed under the mission. About 96 per cent and 74 per cent of total wards in the country have been practising 100 per cent door-to-door waste collection and 100 per cent source segregation respectively. In addition, 60 per cent of the total urban waste collected is being properly treated or processed.
Moving forward, the government aims to begin an ODF-plus scheme to sustain the current ODF mission. It plans to focus on liquid and grey-water management, and solid waste collection, source segregation and processing. While source segregation of waste is undertaken in some cities, waste processing and disposal still remains a major challenge.
Swachh Survekshan 2020
In August 2019, the MoHUA launched the fifth edition of the annual cleanliness survey of urban areas, Swachh Survekshan (SS) 2020, to foster healthy competition among cities and improve service delivery in the process. It is the world’s largest urban sanitation and cleanliness survey conducted under SBM-Urban. SS 2020 has been conducted from January 4, 2020 to January 31, 2020. In 2019, Indore stood first in the SS for the third consecutive year.
Smart Cities Mission
The SCM was launched on June 25, 2015, with the aim of providing core infrastructure to 100 cities, with the help of special purpose vehicles. According to the Economic Survey 2019-20, a total of 5,151 smart city projects involving a cost of Rs 2.05 trillion are at various stages of implementation. As of November 14, 2019, 4,178 projects worth Rs 1.5 trillion have been tendered, of which work orders for about 81 per cent of the projects worth Rs 1.05 trillion have been issued, whereas 25 per cent of the projects worth Rs. 231.7 billion have been completed.
In Union Budget 2020-21, the government has proposed the development of five new smart cities in collaboration with states in the public-private partnership (PPP) mode. It plans to develop these new cities as investment hubs. However, no budgetary increments have been made for them. The mission was allocated Rs 64.5 billion for 2019-20 as compared to Rs 61.69 billion in 2018-19. The central government has now decided to come up with a report card of the 100 selected smart cities in June 2020. The rankings will be based on three parameters – ease of living, municipal performance index, and climate. However, the mission itself is lagging behind schedule as only one-fourth of the planned projects have been completed so far. This can be attributed to various bottlenecks being faced by the cities such as lack of both funding and private participation.
Launched in 2015, the Namami Gange programme has received an outlay of Rs 200 billion for pollution abatement, conservation and rejuvenation of the Ganga river. The central government has set a deadline of 2022 to complete all sanctioned works under the project.
As of December 2019, the central government has sanctioned 310 projects worth Rs 289.09 billion for various activities such as sewage infrastructure, ghats and crematoria development, riverfront development, etc. Of these projects, a total of 114 have been completed at an expenditure of Rs 80.99 billion. However, the majority of the sanctioned funds remain under-/unutilised by the states. Himachal Pradesh has not spent any funds sanctioned under the Namami Gange programme. Further, Delhi has used only 21 per cent of the funds sanctioned, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which have each used only 23 per cent of the sanctioned funds.
Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation
AMRUT was launched on June 25, 2015 with the aim of developing basic urban infrastructure in 500 mission cities by March 2020. The mission has five thrust areas, with the top priority being water connections and enhancing water supply capacity.
Of the total plan size of Rs 776.4 billion of all the state annual action plans, about 50 per cent of the funds have been allocated to water supply (Rs 390.11 billion), 42 per cent to sewerage and septage projects (Rs 324.56 billion), and 4 per cent towards drainage projects (Rs 29.69 billion), amongst others.
Under AMRUT, the government had promised 13.9 million water connections and 14.5 million sewer connections and storm water drainage projects by March 2020. However, only about 46 per cent of the water connection targets and 28.3 per cent of sewer connection targets have been achieved as of December 2019. Water supply projects worth Rs 338.57 billion have been shelved whereas projects worth Rs 38.63 billion have been completed. Besides, sewerage and septage projects worth Rs 268.67 billion and Rs 20.53 billion have been grounded and completed respectively.
With a large number of projects still in the implementation phase, the central government has decided to extend the mission period of AMRUT by another two years so as to be able to meet the set targets.
Jal Jeevan Mission
The JJM, launched in 2019, aims to provide a tap connection to every rural household by 2024, at an investment of Rs 3.6 trillion. The mission aims to increase water availability to the households through the augmentation of local water resources and recharging the existing sources through conservation methods.
The government has increased the budgetary allocations to JJM from Rs 100 billion in 2019-20 to Rs 115 billion in 2020-21. It plans to ensure access to tap water to all cities with a population of over 1 million in the coming year. It has set a target of adding 11.5 million household tap connections in 2020-21. Currently, only 18 per cent of the rural households have access to tap water. The mission will ensure appropriate and adequate water supply to all rural households by 2024.
The way forward
These flagship schemes launched by the government are crucial for urban development as they ensure the provision of basic civic amenities to the residents. However, there are multiple bottlenecks being faced by them such as funding issues, lack of private participation and delays in clearances, thereby resulting in time and cost overruns.