Bihar minister disputes Centre data, flags higher number in state scheme

The rest of the tap water connections, Jha said, were provided under two other schemes, including Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal scheme which is run by the Nitish Kumar government on its own and which accounts for the largest chunk of the total number.

BIHAR WATER Resources Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha on Wednesday disputed figures reported by the Centre on the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) dashboard, saying only 8.44 lakh tap water connections have been provided in Bihar under the central scheme for rural households, and not 1.46 crore as shown.

The rest of the tap water connections, Jha said, were provided under two other schemes, including Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal scheme which is run by the Nitish Kumar government on its own and which accounts for the largest chunk of the total number.

This is the first time a state — one ruled by the JD(U) in alliance with the BJP — has disputed the figures on the JJM dashboard.

Reacting to The Indian Express report based on dashboard figures that say Bihar provided 1.46 crore tap water connections to rural households under the JJM since it began in 2019, Jha in a tweet gave the breakup of the connections under different schemes.

“Thanks to vision of Hon CM Shri @NitishKumar, 87% of Bihar rural households have access to clean tap water. The scheme-wise breakup of tap connections provided in Bihar is as follows: 1. Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal: 152.16 lakh; 2. Jal Jeevan Mission: 8.44 lakh; and 3. NRDWP: 2.32 lakh,” tweeted Jha, who is also the national general secretary of the JD(U).

The Bihar minister’s objection is significant as Bihar has the single largest contribution in the central data. If Bihar’s numbers are discounted, the national figure will drop to 3.36 crore from 4.74 crore as reported on the JJM dashboard on Wednesday.

In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said: “I am happy that in just two years of Jal Jeevan Mission, more than 4.5 crore families have started getting tap water.”

An email sent by The Indian Express to the spokesperson for Union Jal Shakti Ministry, seeking a response on the data, remained unanswered till press time.

Jha said the Bihar government has provided tap water connections to rural households with its own money. “Our Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal scheme was conceived in 2015 and implemented from 2016. The state government has been running this scheme from its own money. This has been possible only due to personal monitoring by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar,” he told The Indian Express.

He said the Bihar government has used the Jal Jeevan Mission in less than 5 per cent of rural wards in the state to provide the tap water connections to rural households. “Under @jaljeevan_ Bihar has done work in 4,891 wards out of a total of 1,14,651 rural wards. 1,346 wards taken up under the erstwhile NRDWP. Remaining 1,08,414 wards covered under state government’s Har Ghar Nal ka Jal scheme,” he tweeted.

Tagging The Indian Express report, he tweeted, “This is a remarkable story! Giant vision of CM Shri @NitishKumar of Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal… has ensured 87% of rural households in Bihar with tap water connections – among top 4 best states in India.”

A source in Jal Shakti Ministry said the Centre has released about Rs 771 crore to Bihar under the JJM in the past two years, and that Bihar’s performance is better than other states because it started working on its own scheme well before the launch of the JJM.

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