Assam minister Jayanta Malla Baruah addresses the meeting with tea garden management and other stakeholders, in Guwahati

Guwahati: Assam public health engineering (PHE) department minister Jayanta Malla Baruah urged the management of tea gardens and other stakeholders of tea estates to effectively implement the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) and Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) across all tea gardens in the state.

A meeting with the tea gardens’ management and other stakeholders in this regard was organised here on Tuesday to discuss the various aspects of the implementation process of JJM in order to ensure the full coverage of the mission across all the tea estates of Assam.

Addressing the meeting at the Srimanta Sankardev International Auditorium, the minister spoke at length about the benefits of clean drinking water and public hygiene and also presented the current status of JJM across all tea gardens, which is comparatively better than the state average.

The meeting was also attended by the MLAs who have tea gardens falling under their respective constituencies.

The PHE minister further highlighted the fact that the water supply infrastructure expenditure of Rs 1700 crore (which will cover 800 tea gardens of Assam) incurred in the tea gardens under the mission was the highest ever since the country’s independence.

“Clean and safe drinking water and achieving ODF (open defecation free) plus status in sanitation will upgrade the livelihood of the tea garden workers helping them lead a disease-free life,” Baruah said.

The minister also urged the tea garden organisations and unions to monitor the work of the schemes taken under JJM and also ensure the availability of clean drinking water to the last mile.

“Since, the post-implementation phase of these schemes is mostly self-sustainable through the water users committee, but in tea gardens, the responsibility of operation and maintenance has to be taken up by tea garden management,” he reiterated.

Besides, the minister also appealed to the management to look after the local issues such as the availability of land, etc.

Notably, a total number of 2.75 lakh functional household tap connections (FHTCs) have been installed till now in all tea gardens which takes the coverage up to 63 per cent.

The minister also informed that a total number of 1603 water supply schemes would be made functional in 803 tea gardens across Assam once completed.

The meeting was attended by minister Sanjay Kishan, minister Jogen Mohan, several MLAs, senior officers of the department and representatives from tea organisations.

Notably, back in August 2021, the tea tribe welfare department (Assam government) organised an interactive session with intellectuals, government representatives and noted citizens of the tea tribe community in an initiative named “Humder Moner Kotha”.

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The session was chaired by chief minister Himanta Biswa Sharma. Jal Jeevan Mission was one of the main objectives that were asserted to be enforced in the tea gardens.

Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) aims to provide functional household tap connections to every rural household by the year 2024.

In 2021-22, Assam was to get Rs 3,000 crore from the central funds under Jal Jeevan Mission and was advised by the committee to make provisions for matching the state share and proper expenditure plan.

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