NEW DELHI, May 30, 2014 - The government of India, the government of Maharashtra and the World Bank today signed a $165 million credit agreement to help Maharashtra achieve its vision of ensuring safe drinking water and improved sanitation services for rural communities at an affordable cost and in an environmentally safe manner. The project was approved by the World Bank Board on March 12, 2014.
The credit agreement for the Maharashtra Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) Program (Jalswarajya-II) was signed by Nilaya Mitash, joint secretary, department of economic affairs, ministry of finance, on behalf of the government of India; Kiran Gitte, deputy secretary, water supply and sanitation department, on behalf of the government of Maharashtra and Michael Haney, World Bank’s operations advisor in India, on behalf of the World Bank.
Today, about 50% of the rural households in Maharashtra have access to tap water and about 37% have access to improved domestic toilets (Census 2011). Improving access to water and sanitation services, therefore, remains a priority for the state where water scarcity and water quality, and sustainability of sanitation coverage are still critical challenges.
Jalswarajya-II will help improve the quality of water and sanitation services in about 40 peri-urban villages and increase access to safe drinking water in about 580 water-stressed and water quality-affected villages, covering about one million people in 12 selected districts. In addition, the entire rural population in the state is expected to benefit from efforts to improve the capacity of its various RWSS institutions.
The World Bank’s earlier Jalswarajya-I Project (2003-2009) benefited 6.7 million people with improved water services, and about 61% of the gram panchayats in the project area have become Open Defecation Free (ODF).
“This program, signed today, will support the state’s ongoing Medium Term Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) program (2012-2022) of increasing water connections for households, improving service levels and ensuring that 100% of the rural population has access to safe water and improved sanitation especially in peri-urban and water quality-affected and water-stressed areas. This is fully aligned with the government of India’s National Rural Drinking Water Program and the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign) for sanitation,” said Nilaya Mitash, joint secretary, department of economic affairs, ministry of finance, government of India.
Jalswarajya-II will be implemented over a six-year period between 2014 and 2020. It is the first Program-for-Results (PforR) operation in India, wherein the World Bank funds will be disbursed on achievement of agreed key results, which are called Disbursement-Linked-Indicators.
“The World Bank has had a long-term engagement with Maharashtra in the RWSS sector spanning over two decades. Over the years the state has adopted a decentralized approach that has helped improve service standards. This is the first Program-for-Results (PforR) operation in India, designed as a programmatic approach, wherein disbursement of Bank funds will be linked to the program achieving agreed results. In the coming years, we hope Maharashtra will be able to demonstrate the benefits of such an operation to other states and sectors and inspire them to adopt a similar approach,” said Michael Haney, World Bank’s operations advisor in India.
The Jalswarajya-II program will build the capacity of the RWSS institutions and local communities for planning, implementation and monitoring across Maharashtra; improve the water testing laboratories; strengthen the existing Maharashtra Environmental Engineering Training and Research Academy (MEETRA) to become a center of excellence for research and in building capacities; construct, rehabilitate and extend existing water supply systems; construct new waste water management schemes in peri-urban areas; scale up sustainable groundwater management practices in critically exploited aquifers and construct and rehabilitate water systems in water-stressed and water quality-affected areas. The specific focus will be on improving access to household toilets by converging various sanitation initiatives related to solid waste management and waste water management.
“This program will build the capacity of various institutions to better plan, monitor and implement RWSS schemes in the state by bridging the skills gap, systems gap and the physical infrastructure gaps. Maharashtra has taken on the challenge of demonstrating results based disbursements, under this first PforR project in India, thus setting new benchmarks for the RWSS sector in the country,” said Raghava Neti, senior infrastructure specialist and World Bank’s task team leader for the program.
The project will be financed by a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm – which provides interest-free loans with 25 years to maturity and a grace period of five years.