By Bibek Debroy & Aditya Sinha
Public accountability is usually used as a rhetorical device to convey the picture of excellent governance. However what’s public accountability? Mark Bovens, one of the vital cited students on accountability, calls it an institutionalised observe of account-giving. Boven’s public accountability framework consists of three parts: (1) the federal government/actor is obliged to tell the citizenry/discussion board about its conduct; this may be accomplished by offering varied types of knowledge, the experiences on the evaluate of efficiency, and so on, (2) that is adopted by accountee debating and evaluating the efficiency of the federal government, and (3) lastly, the accountee passes the judgement on the efficiency of the accountor, which may result in formal or casual sanctions. In some instances, these sanctions come within the type of electoral defeat.
Is the federal government obliged to be accountable? Sure, in sure instances, for example, the chief is accountable to the legislature. However in a couple of instances, it’s voluntary. We’re involved with the latter. Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) is one such instance whereby the federal government voluntarily has turn out to be accountable to individuals on the grassroots. Launched in 2019, JJM goals to offer each family in rural India protected and sufficient consuming water and thru faucet connections by 2024. JJM goals to transcend constructing pipeline infrastructure to create sustainable water options; Rs 50,000 crore has been earmarked for the JJM in Finances 2021-22.
JJM has a mobile-friendly dashboard (bit.ly/3u3SYNf). It’s a device for voluntary public accountability for a number of causes. (1) It has particulars of the variety of households wherein are faucets are put in, and guaranteed potable water is obtainable in a state, metropolis, district, village or block. This information is collected and up to date in real-time. (2) The main points of potable faucet water connections in colleges and anganwadis. (3) JJM empowers the native authorities and relies on a neighborhood strategy. The dashboard additionally has particulars of the water utility administration crew of the village. This contains Gram Panchayat, Pani Samiti members, the particular person chargeable for operation and administration and most significantly, ladies recognized for area check package (FTK) testing. (4) It has a working e-grievance redressal mechanism. (5) It has particulars of samples examined within the final three months for contamination and whether or not the water has been discovered to be contaminated. (6) Sensor-based Web of Issues (IoT) options are being deployed, which is able to be capable to gauge the quantity of water being discharged in each water tank. At the moment, this information is manually fed by the officers. (7) The ministry is working to develop a conveyable system to examine water high quality in villages, identical to glucometers. Finally, anyone may examine the standard of consuming water.
Additional, there are programs of checks and balances to make sure that information shouldn’t be fudged. Like different authorities initiatives, this now must be vetted by third-party scrutiny. Moreover, for the broader dissemination of this information, it must be made accessible in regional languages. In consequence, meant accountees might be higher outfitted to judge the efficiency of the federal government.
So far as JJM’s efficiency is anxious, it has introduced in sea adjustments in consuming water infrastructure in rural India. Greater than 4 crore rural households (as of March 30) have been supplied with energetic faucet water connection. That is greater than double the variety of connections from August 15, 2019, i.e. 3.23 crore connections to 7.24 crore connections. Goa (100%), Telangana (100%), Haryana (86.73%), Gujarat (82.96%), HP (76.03%), Punjab (73.73%) and Bihar (68.81%) have made giant strides in offering entry to tapped consuming water connection. West Bengal (8.93%), Assam (9.80%), Uttar Pradesh (10.96%), Chhattisgarh (12.46%), Jharkhand (12.48%) and Rajasthan (19.09%) nonetheless have a protracted option to go.
The disparities between the states emanate out of various beginning factors. As of August 15, 2019, 70.13% of the agricultural households in Gujarat had entry to assured high quality consuming water by means of faucets. Quite the opposite, just one.91% of rural households in West Bengal had entry to potable water connections on August 15, 2019.
The federal government now has plans to increase the scheme to city areas, however it’s simpler mentioned than accomplished. One would assume that it might be a low hanging fruit since city India already has piped water infrastructure. In rural India, the place inhabitants density is low, the unit of study for JJM is homes which are spatially separated. Whereas in city areas, there are additionally slums, chawls and different excessive inhabitants density clusters. The prevalence of closed city areas makes it troublesome to trace potable water’s attain within the desired portions (55tcpd) to particular person family inside the slums. Thus, it’ll require a extra revolutionary strategy to make sure the specified outreach.
Regardless, the general public coverage interventions like JJM have introduced in a brand new daybreak of accountability whereby individuals can query these in energy. It checks all the weather of Boven’s framework. Would the likes of Sir Humphrey Appleby approve of the general public accountability the JJM dashboard affords? Most likely not. However, it certainly makes the chief, together with paperwork, extra accountable to the individuals. And as Stephen Covey places it, it’s a kind of “accountability (which) breeds response-ability”.
Debroy is chairman, and Sinha is assistant guide, EAC-PM