Development in India is distributed unevenly. The condition of living in many districts lags far behind compared to progressing districts. Even in better off states, progressing districts. Even in better off states, there are pockets of backward areas, which need special interventions by the Governments. To quickly and effectively transform these districts by 2022 in line with the Government’s vision of creating a ‘New India’, NITI Aayog has recently launched the Aspirational Districts Programme. In this context, 115 districts have been selected by NITI Ayog from 28 states based on six socio-economic parameters, pertaining to health and nutrition, education, financial inclusion and skill development, agriculture and water resources, and basic infrastructure including drinking water is one of the core dimensions. For this, the Government promotes Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), aided by technology to bring radical transformation of these aspirational districts. Besides, 35 districts that face Left Wing Extremism (LWE) violence and 15 districts from Jammu and Kashmir have also been included.

Step involved in Swajal Pilot Project:

Swajal Pilot Project follows the steps mentioned below. Monitoring and Evaluation would be part of all these steps.

(a) Preparatory Steps: This includes dissemination of the Swajal Pilot Project details and principles in the state and compilation of existing water sources database, and institutional mobilization to implement the program.

(b) Scheme Selection: Schemes to be covered under various categories are identified and pre feasibility studies to collect basic data of the schemes are conducted.

(c) Implementation of the Project Cycle: Planning; and Implementation of the schemes, following a set of defined principles and activities and involving the community.

(d) Post-Implementation Support: Support to the GPs post-implementation to undertake operation and maintenance and monitor sustainability Community Contribution:

a) Contribution from stakeholders against capital cost of water supply schemes: The Government of India and the State Government share will be as per the existing NRDWP guidelines applicable to various states. The concerned Gram Panchayat will contribute in cash 5% capital. General category users will contribute INR 2000 whereas SC/ ST will contribute INR 1000 towards partial capital cost sharing.

b) Contribution from stakeholders against operation and maintenance of schemes: GP will contribute 15% of Annual devolved fund from Finance Commission towards O&M expenses. The scheme will also be covered initially for two years through insurance coverage by partial (50%) cost sharing by the concerned Gram Panchayat and partial (50%) from Project cost. In case of emergencies, the State Govt. will restore the defunct schemes and will also take up replacement and expansion of the schemes after expiry of the insurance period.

Institutional setup:

State level:

  • State Water and Sanitation Mission (SWSM): SWSM of the State is the highest policy-making body for Swajal Pilot Project.
  • Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation: DDWS or the department responsible for implementation of rural drinking water supply is the nodal agency for this Pilot Project and implement the project by coordinating with the sector stakeholders such as health, education departments, etc.

District level:

  •  District Water and Sanitation Mission: It reviews the implementation of the Swajal Pilot Project; (ii) guide the District Water and Sanitation Committee (DWSC) in planning, designing, implementation and O&M of water supply scheme; (iii) approve the annual budget related to the scheme; (iv) channel funds to GP and VWSSC; (v) assist GP/VWSSC in procurement and construction of schemes; and (vi) provide dispute resolution mechanism for GPs.

  •  District Water and Sanitation Committee: The DWSC is being established in pilot districts, if not already available, for appraising the schemes up to a certain prescribed Limit (as per decisions taken by the respective State Government), being responsible for the selection of GPS, 505, and carrying out M&E. The committee is given technical support by the DWSM.

  •  District Level Implementing Agency: For implementation of works of the Pilot Project, the implementing agencies district-level officers provide technical guidance and assistance to the VWSSCs according to the Swajal Pilot principles and will report to the DWSMs.

Village Level:

  •  Gram Panchayat (GP): The GP mobilizes and support the formation of VWSSC to ensure participatory approach. It empowers and provides capacity support to the VWSSC, ensure O&M and cost recovery of the scheme, and be responsible for fund flows, scheme approval, accounts management, auditing, M&E, and conflict resolution.

  •  Village Water Supply and Sanitation Sub Committee (VWSSC): VWSSC is formed for each water supply scheme and for each village in the case of multi village scheme, consisting of beneficiaries of the scheme. The VWSSC is responsible for scheme planning, designing, procurement, construction, O&M, tariff fixation and revision, community contributions (capital and O&M), accounts management, and auditing. The VWSSC is also responsible for procurement and construction of scheme.


The demonstrated success of reform in rural water supply and sanitation sector based on demand driven approaches has contributed a lot leading to the formulation of a central government level program for mainstreaming Swajal principles countrywide. The lessons learnt from earlier models based on demand driven and community centred principles include partnership between village communities, NGOs and the government as the facilitator and co-financing has worked successfully. The possibility of misappropriating and misusing the funds becomes minimal if transparency at each stage is adhered and monitored by stakeholders. Empowerment of PRIs is a viable and sustainable option for scaling up the decentralized service delivery model. The change from a supply based model to demand based model requires a new mindset and investment at different levels for acceptance of the new model. Good facilitation and appropriate techniques have to be put in place in community management model. Some form of external support to communities is imperative to ensure long term sustainability.

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Courtesy: Kurukshetra