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Ensuring Safe and Adequate Drinking Water

Which are the provisions dealing with drinking water?

1. The provision of clean drinking water has been given priority in the Constitution of India.

2. Article 47 confers the duty of providing clean drinking water and improving public health standards to the State.

3. United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) has themed this year’s Water’s Day as ‘leaving no one behind’.

4. It is on par with the promise on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

5. Goal 6 of Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030 aims for clean water and sanitation for ensuring their availability and sustainable management.

6. Goal 6.1 specifically states that by 2030, countries including India should ‘achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all’.

Why is safe and adequate drinking water important?

1. According to global reports released by the United Nations, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home and 80% of those who have to use unsafe water and unprotected water sources reside in rural areas.

2. More than 700 children under five years of age die every day from diarrhoea due to unsafe water and poor sanitation.

3. As per the report, in eight out of 10 households, women and girls are responsible for water collection.

4. Nearly 2/3rds of the world’s population experiences severe water scarcity at least 31 days per year.

5. The intense impact of water scarcity could displace 700 million people by 2030.

6. Water consumption of the world is doubling every 20 years, which is more than twice the rate of increase of India’s population.

What is the status in India?

1. India is among the world’s most water stressed countries.

2. Central Water Commission estimated that only about 1,123 km3, (690 km3 from surface water and 433 km3 from groundwater) can be used due to topographical constraints and spatio-temporal variations in resources.

3. In 1950, India had 3000-4000 cubic metres of water per person, which has fallen to around 1000 cubic metres due to population growth.

4. Water resources are not evenly distributed.

5. Half of India’s annual precipitation falls in just 15 rain-soaked days causing droughts and floods.

6. According to NSSO (2011-12), about 88.5% households in rural India had improved source of drinking water and among these, 85.8% had sufficient drinking water.

7. 46.1% of the rural households do not have drinking water facilities within their premises.

8. A person in rural India has to spend, on an average, 20 minutes to fetch drinking water.

9. India has already spent an estimated Rs.1,105 billion on providing safe drinking water since the First Five Year Plan in 1951.

10. Water borne diseases are still an issue in India due to which 73 million working days are lost.

11. As on 31st December 2018, 79% of rural habitations had been covered at 40 lpcd (litres per capita per day) but only 47% at 55 lpcd.

12. 18% of rural households had been provided with Piped Water Supply till 6th January 2019.

13. States like Gujarat, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh have performed well while Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have minimal piped water coverage.

How the government has tried to tackle this issue?

1. Bhore Committee set up in 1946 led to Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (1972) and Swajal Dhara scheme (1999) by empowering and involving local communities in tackling water and sanitation issues.

2. In 1981, Government of India launched the International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (81-90) Programme with one of the targets being 100% coverage of rural and urban population for safe drinking water supply.

3. Technology Mission for drinking water was set up in 1986, later renamed as Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission in 1991.

4. Department of Drinking Water Supply was created in the Ministry of Rural Development in 1999.

5. Bharat Nirman created the required infrastructure to provide good quality water to rural households.

6. At present National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) aims at assisting States in providing adequate and safe drinking water to rural population.

7. The Ministry is also aiming to achieve Har Ghar Jal by 2030 in line with UN’s SDG.

8. Earlier, drinking water was provided through hand pumps and tube wells but now the thrust area is piped water supply through a balanced mix of sustainable surface and groundwater-based resources.

9. The Central Government aims to cover 90% rural households with piped water supply and 80% with tap connection by 2022.

10. Pilot project Swajal aims to provide sustainable access to drinking water to people in the rural areas.

11. Atal Bhujal Yojana aims to ensure groundwater management in overexploited and ground water stressed areas in seven states.

12. National Water Quality Sub-Mission aims to address the urgent need for providing clean drinking water in already identified 28,000 arsenic and fluoride affected habitations.

Where do we need focus?

1. 163 million of India’s population lacks access to clean water close to home (recent report by Britain based charity WaterAid).

2. Current pattern will lead to half of the demand for water unmet by 2030.

3. Climate changes pose fresh risk of extreme rates of rainfall and evapotranspiration, which intensifies the impact of floods and droughts.

4. There is a need to promote rainwater harvesting.

5. The central Ground Water Board has prepared a conceptual document entitled ‘Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Ground Water in India’.

6. There is a need for more role of Panchayati Raj Institutions in making drinking water supply schemes functional.