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Water and Sanitation for Healthy India

1. Every human being has the right to have continuous availability of potable water.

2. Contaminated water and a lack of basic sanitation are undermining efforts to end extreme poverty and disease in the world’s poorest countries.

What is the status of quality & access to water?

As per the global reports of United Nations on issues related to water

1. 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home and majority of them reside in rural areas.

2. Nearly 2/3rd of the world’s population experiences severe water scarcity for a part of the year.

3. More than 700 children die every day due from diarrhoea.

India

1. India is facing its worst-ever water crisis with 600 million people facing acute water shortage.

2. The quality of tap water in many cities does not satisfy all the safety parameters prescribed for drinking water standards of BIS notified in 2012.

3. Due to rapid increase in population, the per capita availability of water in the country has decreased more than 3 times compared to 1951.

How does UN aim to tackle this issue?

1. United Nations General Assembly recognised the human right to water and sanitation in 2010.

2. UN recognized the right of every human being to have access to enough water for personal and domestic uses which must be safe, acceptable and affordable.

3. It has stated that

a) Water costs should not exceed 3% of household income.

b) Water source shall be within 1000 meter of home.

c) Water collection time should not exceed 30 minutes.

4. Water is listed in Sustainable Development Goal 6- “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

5. Goal 6.1 states that by 2030 countries should ‘achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.’

Which are the initiatives taken in India?

1. A new Ministry of Jal Shakti was created by merging the erstwhile ministries of Water Resources and Drinking Water and Sanitation.

2. The Jal Shakti Ministry has launched the Jal Shakti Abhiyan – a campaign for water conservation in 256 districts. This will be done through rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies/ tanks, watershed development, afforestation, etc.

3. Central and State Governments are actively pursuing the achievements of SDGs, including SDG 6.

4. These initiatives include National Rural Drinking Water Program (NRDWP), Accelerated Urban Water Supply Programme (AUWSP), Namai-Gange and National Water Policy.

5. The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), India’s flagship sanitation programme aims to accelerate universal access to sanitation in rural and urban India.

6. Article 47 of the Constitution also has given the duty of providing clean drinking water and improving public standards to the state.

7. People have also demonstrated effective models of water conservation. Examples – Rajasthan’s Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan (2016), Andhra Pradesh’s Neeru Chettu Programme, etc.

Why is there a need for better water governance?

1. India is water surplus and receives enough rainfall to meet the requirements of its population. But its water resources are not managed properly.

2. Other than scarcity and stress, the major reason for water crisis is poor management.

3. Water management refers to the government making decisions to manage water systems.

4. Water governance includes both internal and external processes through which societies manage water resources.

5. Water governance should be given due priority for sustainable development of water resources.

6. Different aspects of water governance include legal and regulatory aspects, human resources, cost recovery and financial sustainability.

7. There is a need to improve water governance in India by educating the governance machinery in rural and urban India managing the supply of water.

Where do we need to focus?

1. The traditional methods of water conservation have been lost.

2. Treatment and re-use of household water is poor in India.

3. There is a need to sensitize the people so that the movement towards water conservation takes place at the grassroots level.