The government pats itself on the back over Goa being the first State in the country to be declared 100 per cent har ghar jal (water supply in every house), yet when our teams travelled the length and breadth of the State to check the ground reality, what they found was different and the pictures accompanying the reports that they filed tell the story better than words can.
First let’s look at what the statement making the announcement said: ‘Goa has earned itself the unique distinction of becoming the first ‘Har Ghar Jal’ State in the country as it successfully provides 100 per cent functional household tap connections (FHTCs) in the rural areas covering 2.30 lakh rural households’. Going further it said that the two districts – North Goa with 1.65 lakh rural households and South Goa with 98,000 rural households in 191 gram panchayats – are ‘fully saturated’ with assured piped water supply through tap connections. Yet, the statement also says that the State has been successful in providing 100 per cent functional household tap connections (FHTCs) in the rural areas covering 2.30 lakh rural households. So, when you do the math, this works to over 2.60 lakh households in the State, of which 2.30 lakh households have been provided with household tap connections. So are we at 100 per cent tap connections in Goa? Has the State really achieved the target?
Now we ask: Where’s the water? Is it enough to have taps in all households? Shouldn’t there be actual water flowing from these taps? If not 24 hours a days, shouldn’t the water flow for at least a few hours during the day?
The opposition immediately raised questions on the announcement of Goa being 100 per cent har ghar jal. Former PWD Minister Ramkrishna (Sudin) Dhavalikar said that it was 85 per cent of the rural households that have tap connections and not 100 per cent. The Congress called it a jumala and invited the Union Minister to visit Goa where they would take him to villages where people depend on wells and rivulets for water. Possibly they would not have to travel too far to point out such people.
As the Herald teams went to the villages, and not just deep in the interiors but some not so far from the urban milieu, it found that people in Goa still stand in queues at public water taps for their share of potable water. At other places the wells are from where the people get their water. As per available data, the government provides more than 200 litres per capita daily, which is much higher than the minimum requirement of 135 LPCD as per the CPWD norms.
This should not be a race to reach first past the post. It is fine that there are deadlines set to achieve the target of having piped water in every household, but then these have to be achieved with proper planning and measures. Mere announcements do not serve the purpose. Last year, Goa had been the last State to achieve the 100 per cent ODF (open defecation free) status and this was announced very suddenly to meet the deadline, with the government stating that people in the State have access to proper toilets. It still had to construct toilets in many areas.
Similarly, with the water supply, a lot depends on the availability of water. Goa has a number of rivers and rivulets, receives copious amounts of rain, yet the supply of water is limited and the demand is increasing. In fact, WRD officials admit that though there has been abundant rainfall, there has been an imbalance in supply. So again, has Goa achieved the 100 per cent Har Ghar Jal target?