Special Issue
Water is must for quality for life
The government is acutely aware of the need to provide certain basic minimum needs to improve the quality of life of the common citizen. The policies and initiatives on potable water are slowly bearing fruit. A report.
ater and quality of lives are inextricably linked. Once viewed as an infinite and bountiful resource, water today defines human, social, and economic development. The global concern with the need to provide drinking water to the people in developing countries led the United Nations Water Conference at Mar del Plata (Argentina) in 1977 to call for a ten-year campaign by member-countries and international agencies to provide access to safe water for all people. This Conference, to which India is a signatory, resolved that ‘all people whatever their stage of development of their social and economic conditions have the right to have access to drinking water in quantum and of a quality equal to their basic needs’. The decade of 1981- 90 was designated as the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade. Though India has pledged its full support to the action plan under the International Decade, the overall progress has not been as per expectations. Even then, according to an estimation by WHO/ UNICEF, our country has already achieved 86 per cent coverage of rural population with safe drinking water.

The Central Government introduced the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP) in 1972-73 to assist the States and the Union Territories with 100 per cent grants-in-aid to implement the schemes. But with the introduction of the Minimum Needs Programme (MNP) during the Fifth Five Year Plan (from 1974-75), it was withdrawn. The Programme was however, reintroduced in 1977-78. The Minimum Needs Programme (MNP) was introduced with the objective to provide certain basic minimum needs including rural water supply and thereby to improve the quality of life of the people.
The water table has gone down. At the moment we are providing safe drinking water to the tune of 1,123 billion metric tonnes. Efforts are also being made to reduce the content of arsenic...

- Pawan Kumar Bansal
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and water resources

Total Number of habitations to be addressed by Bharat Nirman-Rural Water Supply (as on April 1, 2007)

States/UT UC SB QA
Andhra Pradesh 0 22271 1330
Arunachal Pradesh 169 2681 213
Assam 2456 10636 23170
Bihar 0 30545 19126
Chattisgarh 0 469 4956
Goa 4 0 0
Gujrat 0 2206 3370
Haryana 0 1470 189
Himachal Pradesh 2268 8287 0
Jammu & Kashmir 2407 2930 114
Jharkhand 0 13272 907
Karnataka 2604 0 17607
Kerala 5018 0 628
Madhya Pradesh 0 13753 2567
Maharashtra 11828 8827 10704
Manipur 0 0 0
Meghalaya 46 3018 11
Mizoram 25 119 0
Nagaland 570 138 0
Orissa 0 0 25364
Punjab 418 4334 1671
Rajasthan 1512 14228 23135
Sikkim 0 599 76
Tamil Nadu 0 29644 725
Tripura 0 81 1381
Uttar Pradesh 0 0 4682
Uttarakhand 175 5284 0
West Bengal 0 0 17337
Andaman & Nicobar Islands 8 0 26
Dadra & Nagar Haveli 15 0 0
Daman & Diu 0 0 0
Delhi 0 0 0
Lakshdweep 10 0 0
Puducherry 0 0 59
Chandigarh 0 0 0
Total 29534 174782 159348
UC: The habitations which remained uncovered.
SB: The habitations which remained uneffected despite efforts.
QA: Affecting Quality of water.
Source: ECONOMIC SURVEY 2007-2008 Page 259
Rural quality paradigm

Launched in 2006 by Government of India for the balance period of 10th five year plan The National Rural Drinking Water Quality Management and Surveillance Programme aims at monitoring and surveillance of all drinking water sources in the country by the community. It also emphasizes at decentralization of water quality monitoring and surveillance of all rural drinking water sources in India, institutionalization of community participation and involvement of PRIs (Panchayti Raj Institutions) for water quality monitoring and surveillance. It further believes in generation of awareness among the rural people about water quality issues and the problems related to water borne diseases and building capacity of Panchayats to use the field test kits and take up full Q&M (Quality and Management) responsibility for water quality monitoring of all drinking water sources in their respective areas. The programme aims at 100 per cent testing of all the water sources including the private sources in the country at the Gram Panchayat level.

Monitoring and surveillance, therefore, are the major components of this programme. The Health authorities are expected to do the job of Surveillance at all levels. Allocation of funds to the states for the proposed programme are to be done by the Department of Drinking Water Supply in consultation with Planning Commission and the Department’s Integrated Finance Division. The respective State Governments are supposed to devise an integrated approach for technology options covering single village schemes, comprehensive piped water supply schemes, low cost treatment plants, domestic filters, roof-top rain water harvesting and in-situation water conservation.

According to an estimate, the enormous task of drinking water quality monitoring and surveillance in rural areas requires about 160 lakh samples to be tested annually with a norm of one sample per 200 population. This would require very huge outlay to provide the requisite infrastructure and physical facilities, etc. Thus, in order to effectively tackle the enormous task of water quality testing, monitoring and surveillance in rural areas, it was realized that a community based programme is adopted by fully utilizing the manpower and infrastructure already available in different departments and educational institutions. To strengthen and involve community participation in the drinking water sector for sustainability, National Rural Drinking Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance programme calls for participation of at least five persons in each Gram Panchayat. They are to be trained to carry out regular surveillance of drinking water sources for which 100 per cent financial assistance including water testing kits, are provided.


To supplement the effort of the State Government in providing drinking water, Technology Mission for drinking water [TM] was set up in 1986 by the Government of India. In 1991, TM was renamed as Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission [RGNDWM] with the broad objective of providing sustainable safe drinking water to all uncovered/ no source villages and creating awareness among the rural people about the hazards of using unsafe water.

Drinking water is obviously the topmost hallenge. Government aims to increase the water supply to achieve 100 liters per capita per day against 80 liters (WHO tandards)...

--- Dr.Y.S.
Chief Minister,
Andhra Pradesh
It is important that people from all walks of life come together to learn, educate,
conserve and fight for water rights and bring water issues to the

-- Rajendra Singh
Magsaysay award winner

In order to provide focused attention towards attaining the goal of providing safe drinking water to all rural habitations in the next five years in consonance with the National Agenda for Governance, the Department of Drinking Water Supply was created in the Ministry of Rural Development in October 1999. A new effort was initiated through Sector Reform Project, later it was scaled up as Swajaldhara in 2002.

Despite substantial investment made in the rural water supply sector — Rs 8,564 core in the 8th Plan, Rs 16,524 crore in the 10th Plan and Rs 39,490 crore in the 11th Plan — the problem of availability as well as quality in the distribution of drinking water is not very satisfactory in many parts of the country. To provide clean drinking water for all by 2009 and to ensure that there are no slipbacks by the end of the Eleventh Plan is one of the monitorable targets of the Eleventh Five Year Plan. The first part of the goal coincides with the closing year of the Bharat Nirman Programme which proposes to provide safe drinking water to all habitations.

Under the Programme, 55067 not-covered habitations, 2.8 lakh slipped-back habitations, and 2.17 lakh quality-affected habitations are proposed to be covered. However, in order to ensure good economic value for this investment, there has been a paradigm shift in the recently approved revised rural water supply guidelines. This includes moving away from over dependence on single source to multiple source through surface water, ground water and rainwater, focus on achievement of household level drinking water security through formulation of village based water security plan and convergence of all water conservation programmes at the village level.

There is increased thrust on moving away from adoption of high-cost water quality treatment technologies to household-level simple-to-use technologies such as terracotta filters, solar desalination plants and dilution techniques for tackling chemical contamination in drinking water.

The department has revised some of the parameters with regard to water supply programme by looking at the problem areas and finding specific solutions. For North-Eastern States and Jammu & Kashmir, it has changed the funding pattern by making it easy for resource-starved regions to provide for State share thereby making available more resources to them. The Twelfth Finance Commission grant meant for panchayati raj bodies has emphasized in its guidelines that the first priority for spending these grants will be maintenance of water supply and sanitation assets created in the villages. To ensure that sustainability of drinking water is a part of every drinking water supply project, it has been decided to incentivize the programme by granting 100 per cent subsidy to all the State Governments as opposed to 75:25 funding pattern earlier.

There is an emphasis on the States for entering of data on water sources in the villages on-line as also investments made in regard to creation of assets in the villages so as to create a computerized database on water supply programme.

This will remove the chance of repeated investment in certain villages to the exclusion of others where no investment has been made thereby bringing in more transparency in the Rural Drinking Water programmes.

The Government has also introduced better technologies for supply of quality water to the people suffering from various water quality-related diseases. This year the Government has started a school water supply programme called “Jalmani” which ensures that school children receive water of reasonably good quality and quantity by using simple-to-use water treatment technology at the consumption point at the village level.

The programme was launched on November 14, 2008 (Children’s Day). Under the scheme Rs 100 crore has been distributed to States. Under Bharat Nirman Programme which will be ending in March, 2009, majority of targeted habitations have already been covered with potable water and the remaining habitations are expected to be covered within the stipulated period. Under National Rural Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Programme (NRWQM&SP), five representatives from every village are being trained for monitoring of water. ASHA workers, village school children, ex-serviceman are being selected as part of the teams. To involve the community in maintaining the quality and sustainability in the village level drinking water supply systems and for rewarding, recognizing and thus encouraging them, an award called Sajal Gram Puraskar has been approved this year. The scheme will be implemented from 2009-10. Any village panchayat which has achieved the distinction of drinking water security for the last three years without any incidence of water-borne diseases is a Nirmal Gram village eligible for this award.

The problems of island States, hilly, backward and difficult areas are given utmost importance by the Department in the monthly review meetings. The Department had also sent special teams of experts to States such as Tripura and A&N Islands for evolving action plan in regard to the development of water supply and sanitation infrastructure in these States.

With an investment of over Rs 45, 000 cr (up to March 31, 2004), considerable success has been achieved in meeting the drinking water needs of the rural population.

There are more than 3.7 million hand pumps and 1.73 lakh piped water schemes installed in the rural areas. As on March 2004, 95 per cent of rural habitations had been fully covered (FC) and 4.6 per cent were partially covered (PC) and 0.4 per cent were not covered (NC) with drinking water facilities. Providing drinking water was one of the key components of Bharat Nirman, which was supposed to be implemented during 2005-06 to 2008-09 for building rural infrastructure.

During the Bharat Nirman period, 55,067 uncovered habitations and about 3.31 lakh slipped-back habitations were to be covered and 2.17 lakh quality-affected habitations were to be addressed The statewise coverage of habitations under Bharat Niramn- Rural Water Supply (as on April 1, 2007), see page 21.

The access of water supply in urban areas in the past had not been very impressive, due to various reasons, including the fact that the investment made in the urban water supply sector had not been adequate. The Tenth Plan projected a requirement of Rs 28,240 crore for achieving population coverage of 100 per cent with drinking water supply facilities in the 300 Class I cities by March 3, 2007.

The estimated outlay for the Tenth Plan period, however, was only Rs 18,749 crore in the State sector, and Rs 900 crore in Central sector making a total outlay of Rs 19,649 crore only.

The water crisis is an ecological crisis with commercial causes but no market solutions. Market solutions destroy the earth and aggravate inequality.The solution to an ecological crisis is ecological...

--Vandana Shiva
Renowned Environmental
activist, and Eco-feminist
With a target to provide 100 per cent water supply accessibility to the entire urban population by the end of the Eleventh Plan in 2012, it has been estimated that Rs 53,666 crore is required. To provide reformlinked infrastructure facilities in the urban areas, the central Government has launched two new programmes: (i) JNNURM, which covers 63 cities having a population above one million as per 2001 census, including 35 metro cities and other State capitals and culturally important towns; and (ii) UIDSSMT for the remaining 5098 towns with population less than one million to cover all the towns as per 2001 census, irrespective of the population criteria