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The best performing two Gram Panchayats, Melli Dara Paiyong and Gerethang Labing, and one Ward (Zitlang) Water User Association are studied in detail and presented in this report.

TitleGravity based, community-managed rural water supply in South Sikkim district
Publication TypeResearch Report
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsSaraswathy, R, Vijayaram, G
Pagination43 p.
Date Published02/2016
PublisherIRC, Centre of Excellence for Change Chennai (CEC)
Place PublishedThe Hague, The Netherlands
Publication LanguageEnglish

Spread across an altitude from 300 meters to 2,800 meters in the north-east border of India, Sikkim is one of the smallest and most sparsely populated states in the country. With one of the highest levels of wealth (as measured by GDP per person) among the States in India, Sikkim also has a proven track record in best practices of local self-governance as well as political stability. The State has achieved near 100% coverage in drinking water provision with piped supply systems of spring water, adopting the simplest technologies, and has been declared as a '100% open defecation free state' as early as 2008. Given the systems of local governance and the water sources prevailing across the State, this study found that there are Gram Panchayats (GP) and Water User Associations managing their drinking water supply systems extremely well. The best performing two Gram Panchayats, Melli Dara Paiyong and Gerethang Labing, and one Ward (Zitlang) Water User Association are studied in detail and presented in this report.

The Rural Management and Development Department of the State Government is the only enabling agency for water supply. As part of the Panchayat Raj Act 1993 and the decentralisation process in local governance, the Department has taken up many initiatives in institutional strengthening for the GPs in the State. Enabling the GPs to improve public service delivery, including that of rural water supply, has been on the agenda of the Department since the implementation of Panchayat Raj Act. The Assistant Engineer at Block level, and the Junior Engineer at the Panchayat level, provide technical support to the GPs and the Department has also ensured a local person (Barefoot Engineer) is trained on essential fitter/plumber techniques and water quality monitoring. The presence of a Village Water and Sanitation Committee as part of the GP conforms to the NRDWP guidelines of the GoI, however it is the GP that is active at all stages. The Department has also ensured that the GP Members as well as the VWSC members are trained on issues related to water management at their GP level. The State Institute of Rural Development under the Department provides the training. The presence of a political will to strengthen the local self-government institutions and a committed administrative set up to implement the programmes are found to play critical role in State success.

In addition to the prevailing enabling support environment, the community's participation helps the CSPs to manage a sustainable service delivery. Their involvement in planning, implementing, monitoring, and financial contribution through 100% tariff payments make sure that service is delivered without fail. With the revenue generated from the tariff, the CSP is able to deploy more human resources to operate and maintain the system. Besides the Junior Engineer and 'Barefoot Engineer', the CSPs appoint 3 to 4 fitters to monitor the water supply.

The data indicate that the CapEx hardware cost per head is around INR 8,000 and CaEx software cost per head INR 25. The annual operational expenditure at the CSP level is INR 71 per head and the revenue generated by the CSP is INR 71 per head. The ESE contribution to the CSP is INR 37 per head per year, with an annual grant of INR 100,000 to every GP for operation and maintenance, with additional support for chlorination and water quality testing.

The community ownership resulting from the decentralisation process, as well as the high level of socio-economic development in the State, appear to share the success in Sikkim best practices.

Citation Key81976



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