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This research focuses on the enabling support services and the indicative cost of such support services in enabling the successful community management of the water supply.

TitleTamil Nadu Rural Water Supply programme in Kathirampatti Village Panchayat
Publication TypeResearch Report
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsSaraswathy, R
Pagination56 p.
Date Published04/2015
PublisherIRC, Centre of Excellence for Change Chennai (CEC)
Publication LanguageEnglish

This case study forms part of a national level documentation of successful community-managed rural water supply programmes and approaches across India. Tamil Nadu is one of the few states where most of the Village Panchayats (VPs) are provided with Piped Water Supply, covering 93% against the national coverage of 40%. Standalone systems with deep tube wells are the commonly observed water source. Combined Water Supply Schemes (CWSS) with water sourced from distant river beds or reservoirs are also on the increase. The Kathirampatti Village Panchayat rural water supply system is a typical case of Tamil Nadu Rural Water Supply services. The piped water supply system evolved over a period of three decades and fully covers all the villages in the Panchayat today. The transition from surface water based drinking water sources to piped water supply made available at the doorstep is indeed perceived as a sign of development by the Panchayat and the community. However, dependence on ground water and its over exploitation are apparently realised as threat for the community's water security by Panchayat. Now, they have started using multiple sources; the Panchayat has started tapping water from the Combined Water Supply Scheme to ensure regular and reliable supply of sufficient potable water to the community in the long run. The Panchayat maintain a high level of service with reliable potable water of more than 80 lpcd, and 80% Household Service Connections as well as a higher level of community participation with 90% user-charge collection. This research focuses on the enabling support services and the indicative cost of such support services in enabling the successful community management of the water supply.

This report is based on intensive field work carried out during September – December 2014 in the study area. First level, four Village Panchayats were analysed with two, Kathirampatti and Pichandampalayam, taken for detailed study. In all, 8 Key Informant interviews, 3 Focus Group Discussions, and 120 household interviews were carried out besides infrastructure snapshots, water quality testing, tap stand observations and detailed analysis of secondary data and Panchayat records. Three villages of the Panchayat, Kathirampatti, Nanjanapuram and Manalmedu and one village Vannankaattuvalasu of Pichandampalayam were taken up for detailed study.

Enabling Support Environment services for the Panchayats studied are provided by various Government agencies. Under the umbrella of the State Government, the Block Development Office of the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department and the office of the Assistant Executive Engineer of the TWAD Board (Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage Board) are the two different entities of the State Government providing support for Panchayats in drinking water services. The TWAD Board, with a supply driven approach, ensures that the potable water from the Combined Water Supply Schemes reaches a tapping point at the Panchayat by taking care of all aspects such as finance, infrastructure design & implementation, and quality monitoring. The Panchayat pay for the water drawn from the CWSS at the (significantly subsidised) rate of INR 3 per m³. Beyond the bulk water tapping point, it is the Panchayat's responsibility to operate and maintain the distribution system. The BDO of RD&PR Department provide a mixed model of support, holding more responsibility in capital maintenance, major repairs, etc. However, their engagement is limited to facilitating the administrative sanctions for the work, and for disbursing the grant to meet the operation and maintenance expenditures rather than providing any technical assistance, as they are overloaded with multiple responsibilities. The Panchayat engages a Plumber to work exclusively for them so that any complaints can be addressed immediately.

The case of Kathirampatti demonstrates that the prudent management by the Panchayat under the headship of a committed and efficient leader, along with the participation and contribution of the community can ensure successful drinking water management. Nevertheless, there are a few other contextual factors of which the influence cannot be underestimated in making the Kathirampatti case a success. They are: (i) the TNRWSSP water sector project piloted in the 2004-05 period (ii) effective leadership, and (iii) increasing standard of living/purchasing power of the households.

The Kathirampatti Panchayat was part of the Pilot project in water and sanitation sector, the Tamil Nadu Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (TNRWSSP), in which not only the community participation had a strong emphasis but also a shift in the water engineers' role from service 'provider' to 'facilitator' perspective was experimented. The software inputs at the planning and implementation stages of the schemes under the TNRWSSP have made perceptible change at the community level. Community ownership thus created sustained over time and perpetuated to other villages, under the efficient Panchayat leadership. In addition, the purchasing power of the community also plays a major role in encouraging the community in making their contribution and sustaining the good practices.

Citation Key81986



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