Murmu awards 36 women champions of WASH

By Lola Nayar March 06, 2023

Women ‘warriors’ who helped make 2 lakh villages free of open defecation and reach tap water to 11 crore rural households were awarded Swachh Sujal Shakti Samman 2023’ by President of India Droupadi Murmu

Murmu awards 36 women champions of WASH
Women champions of water, sanitation and hygiene were felicitated by President of India Droupadi Murmu.

‘Swachh Sujal Shakti Samman 2023’ was conferred to 36 women champions of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) by President of India Droupadi Murmu and Minister of Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat at a function organized at Vigyan Bhavan on Saturday, March 4.

In the run up to the International Women’s Day, felicitating the exceptional and exemplary work being done at the grassroots by women, President Murmu stressed that women are at the forefront of all the 3 missions of Ministry of Jal Shakti - Swachh Bharat Mission – Grameen (SBM-G), Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain (JSA-CTR). “We recognize the efforts of women in the Self-Help Groups and community-based organizations who have played a vital role in spreading awareness about the importance of water conservation, water management and sanitation. Their hard work and determination have been instrumental in the success of the Swachh Bharat Mission, Jal Jeevan Mission and Jal Shakti Abhiyan,” the president stated. 

Women champions of water, sanitation and hygiene
Women champions of water, sanitation and hygiene

Highlighting the role of the women leadership in the SBM(G) and JJM programs,  President Murmu stated that these women champions had helped to reach piped water supply to more than 11 crore rural households and aided in transforming more than 2 lakhs villages to be ODF Plus or free of open defecation free and other liquid and solid waste free villages.

Applauding the women champions, President Murmu said, “We all have seen how Babita Gupta of Bihar was awarded today for converting plastic waste into decorative products, Salila Jena of Odisha for solid and liquid waste management, Munni Devi of Jharkhand for providing tap water to homes, and Neelam Singh for playing an important role in making the village ODF plus through community cooperation.”  

The awardees were urged by the President to carry tales of success and courage of fellow Awardees to their villages in the field of cleanliness and water conservation across the country, to inspire others to follow environmentally friendly practices.

Women champions of water, sanitation and hygiene
Women champions of water, sanitation and hygiene


The ‘Swachh Sujal Shakti Samman 2023’ function also saw the launch of Jal Shakti Abhiyan – Catch the Rain 2023, release of National Water Mission’s (NWM) operation manual on Source Sustainability by Minister of Jal Shakti Shekhawat, who also presented the President with the first copy of the ‘Swachh Sujal Shakti Ki Abhivyakti’ - a compendium of case stories from SBM (G), JJM and NWM. A customized ‘My Stamp’ for NWM was presented by Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Jesingbhai Chauhan to President Murmu.

DDWS is implementing two flagship programmes of the central government i.e. Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G) and Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM). SBM-G was started on October 2, 2014, with the objective to stop Open Defecation. All villages in the country declared themselves as Open Defecation Free (ODF) on October 2, 2019.  Thereafter, SBM-G 2.0 was launched to sustain the ODF status of the villages and to improve the level of cleanliness in rural areas through Solid and Liquid Waste Management, thereby making them ODF Plus villages. So far, out of nearly 7 lakh villages in the country more than 2 lakh villages of the country have been declared ODF Plus.

Shekhawat stressed that India has come a long way since August 15, 2019, when the Jal Jeevan Mission was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. From only 3.23 crore rural households having tap water connection, today over 11 crore rural households are getting potable water through taps due to the relentless efforts of the mission in partnership with the States and UTs.  

Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA), launched in 2019, has seen the involvement of millions of people in water conservation and recharge efforts. This community led campaign has helped in the creation and rejuvenation of more than 6 lakh water related structures.  JSA 2019 was followed by the launch of “Catch the Rain” campaign in 2020 focusing on water conservation and rainwater harvesting. The overwhelming response received even during COVID pandemic has led the ministry to make it an annual event - commencing prior to the monsoon season and continuing for the next six months. Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain campaigns in 2021 and 2022 have been able to create a synergy in bringing together all stakeholders working on water conservation and water management. Buoyed by their success, the fourth ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain-2023’ has been launched under the theme ‘Source Sustainability for Drinking Water’. The JSA:CTR-2023 will include consolidation of activities i.e. (1) water conservation and rainwater harvesting; (2) enumerating, geo-tagging and making inventory of all water bodies; preparation of scientific plans for water conservation (3) setting up of Jal Shakti Kendras in all districts (4) intensive afforestation and (5) awareness generation.

Vini Mahajan, Secretary, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, highlighted that “Be it Rani Mistri, Jeevika didi, Swachhagrahi, ASHA didi, Anganwadi didi, Jal Sahiya, Kishori samiti didi and enumerable other roles, it’s the women who with their leadership and dedication have played such an important role in the success of all the development schemes and programs of the country”.

Today, more than 1,100 Jal Sahelis are working in the field of water conservation in 7 districts of the country.  Inspired by the works of Jal Sahelis, now other women across the country are also making efforts for water conservation. 

The 36 awards conferred under SBM-G, JJM and NWM were in the following categories:

Swachh Bharat Mission - Grameen (SBM - G)

Making the village ODF Plus Model

GOBARdhan/Bio-degradable Waste and/or Plastic Waste Management

Greywater Management and/or Faecal Sludge Management

Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM)

Women change-makers in the category of O&M of piped water supply

National Water Mission (NWM)

Jal Shakti Abhiyan – Catch the Rain

Water Warriors