Water supply and sanitation

Water supply and sanitation

Issues related to water supply in India

Variability in water availability

India faces large temporal variability in water availability, leading to, among other issues, disasters such as floods and droughts. Due to monsoon climate in India, more than 70% of the annual precipitation takes place in a limited period of about four months. In addition to temporal variability, water availability in India also has huge variations with respect to location, resulting in surplus water in some river basins/regions and water scarcity in others.

Increasing gap between water availability and demands

Population is the key determinant in water demand. As the population of India is increasing, lifestyles are changing and economic activities are increasing, the demand for water is also rapidly rising. Agriculture sector accounts for more than 85% of the annual water demand in the country. As there is no major trend in annual rainfall in India, the gap between demand and supply of water is increasing. In many regions, the demand is already much more than the supply, leading to water scarcity.

Unsustainable water withdrawals

To meet the increasing water demands, progressively larger quantities of water are being withdrawn from surface and subsurface water bodies. Increasing withdrawals have adversely affected the health of many rivers in different reaches and some rivers in different stretches have stopped flowing round the year. This is highly detrimental to the river as well as the environment.

Government efforts to boost water supply in India

National water framework bill,2016

A Committee constituted by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Revejunation on 28.12.2015 under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah suggested a draft National Water Framework Bill, 2016 which inter-alia, contains provisions for an overarching national legal framework with principles for protection, conservation, regulation and management of water as a vital and stressed natural resource.

National water mission

The main objective of the National Water Mission (NWM) is “conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources development and management”. The five identified goals of the Mission are:

  • Comprehensive water data base in public domain and assessment of impact of climate change on water resource;
  • Promotion of citizen and state action for water conservation, augmentation and preservation;
  • Focused attention to vulnerable areas including over-exploited areas;
  • Increasing water use efficiency by 20%, and
  • Promotion of basin level integrated water resources management.


Jal Jeevan Mission

The Central Government assistance to States for rural water supply began in 1972 with the launch of Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme. It was renamed as National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) in 2009, which is a centrally sponsored scheme with fund sharing between the Centre and the States. Under NRDWP, one of the objectives was to “enable all households to have access to and use safe & adequate drinking water within premises to the extent possible”. It was proposed to achieve the goal by 2030, coinciding with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. But now, it is has been planned to achieve the goal by 2024 through Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM). As per the information available with DDWS, as on 31.3.2019, only 18.33% of rural households i.e., 3.27 Crore out of the total 17.87 Crore rural households in the country, have piped water connection.

Following works/ schemes are proposed to be taken up under Jal Jeevan Mission:

  • In-village water supply (PWS) infrastructure for tap water connection to every household;
  • Reliable drinking water source development/ augmentation of existing sources;
  • Transfer of water (multi-village scheme; where quantity & quality issues are there in the local water sources);
  • Technological intervention for treatment to make water potable (where water quality is an issue, but quantity is sufficient);
  • Retrofitting of completed and ongoing piped water supply schemes to provide FHTC and raise the service level;
  • Grey water management;
  • Capacity building of various stakeholders and support activities to facilitate the implementation

Swajal Scheme

Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation aims to provide every rural person with adequate safe water for drinking, cooking and other domestic basic needs on a sustainable basis. This basic requirement should meet minimum water quality standards and be readily and conveniently accessible at all times and in all situations. Ministry has initiated a pilot project in the name of “Swajal” that is designed as a demand driven and community centred program to provide sustainable access to drinking water to people in rural areas.

Issues related to sanitation in India

The overall proportion of Indian households with access to improved water sources increased from 68% in 1992-93 to 89.9% in 2015-16. However, in 2015-16, 63.3% of rural households and 19.7% of urban households were not using improved sanitation facilities. According to the World Bank, more than 520 million in India were defecating in the open – the highest number in the world. This figure is expected to have reduced significantly given that improving sanitation is a key priority of the government which has introduced several flagship programmes including the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to clean India, the National Rural Drinking Water Programme, and Namami Gange, which aims at the conservation of the River Ganga.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Clean India Mission is a national level campaign by the Government of India covering 4041 statutory towns to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure of the country. This campaign was officially launched on 2 October 2014 at Rajghat, New Delhi, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself wielded broom and cleaned a road. The campaign is India’s biggest ever cleanliness drive and 3 million government employees and schools and colleges students of India participated in this event. The mission was started by Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, nominating nine famous personalities for this campaign, and they take up the challenge and nominate nine more people and so on(like the branching of a tree). It has been carried forward since then with famous people from all walks of life joining it.


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