'Aapni Yojna' ends water woes in Rajasthan
Jaipur, Apr 30: Ram Singh, a villager in Churu district of water-stressed desert state Rajasthan, has no more water woes.
As part of the unique ongoing 'Aapni Yojna' project, Ram, the head of Pani Panchayat of his village along with villagers of other 378 villages and two towns in Churu, Hanumangarh and Jhunjhunu district, manage their own water distribution, use it efficiently and are also responsible for the maintenance of the potable water supply system.
The source of water here is the Indira Gandhi Canal.
Each village in the state has a water meter and the water consumed in a month is billed to the village Water and Health Committee (WHC).
Women, who were the most affected by water shortage, had been actively involved in this project starting from map making, site selection of sanitation package and in health and education projects. Construction of sanitation projects is now in the hands of the women.
The 'Aapni Yojna ' project has become a model example for partnership between government, non-government and community based organisations.
Although Rajasthan is the only state in India covering 10.41 per cent of the geographical area and sharing 5.5 percent of the total population of the country, its share of water resources is just 1 per cent.
''In such a scenario, the project has been able to practically demonstrate the concept of community participation in solving key water and sanitation problems of the region, '' said Prof Sanwar Lal, water resource management minister.
''The villages paying for the water is a revolutionary step for the state and the community participating units must take pride in its ability to motivate the community to pay for the drinking water,'' said Milap Dugar, vice-chancellor, Gandhi Vidhya Mandir, deemed university, Sardarshahr.
The project covering 20,000 sq kms has been co-funded by Germany through its development bank KfW. The first phase costing Rs 400 crore and covering a population of nine lakh is near completion.
A consortium of five NGOs namely Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), Bhoruka Charitable Trust, Gandhi Vidya Vihar, Urmul Trust and Indian Institute of Rural Management (IIRM) are implementing the project with state government's Public Health Engineering Department (PHED).
The state government has sanctioned a special tariff structure for the project. The project provides 24 hours water supply to the project villages and recovers water charges as per actual consumption by the village.
Till date, Rs 4.33 crore have been deposited by villages as water charges.