Kurukshetra June 2019 - Drinking Water for Rural India (Part 2)

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Technology Innovations for Safe Drinking Water Supply:- Availability of Safe & Clean Water: As per review of Millennium Development Gols done by united nations out of 35 Indian states, only 7 have achieved full coverage of having a safe water source for their villages.

  • Drinking water quality thus remains an issue & around 19000 villages contains fluorides, nitrates, pesticides, etc. beyond permissible limits.
  • In 1999, steps were launched to institutionalize Community՚s participation in implementation of rural potable water schemes thru sector reform project, as part of National Water Policy in order to ensure sustainability of systems.

Water Quality: A major Concern

  • Govt. has launched National Rural Drinking Water Quality Monitoring & Surveillance Programme Which institutionalized community participation of district & state level laboratories for monitoring of drinking water sources at grassroots level thru Gram Panchayats.
  • Central Water Commission (CWC) regulates use of water to irrigate surface waters, industry & potable water. It mediates in disputes related to inter state water allocation.
  • Central Groundwater Board (CGWB) monitors groundwater levels & rates of

Depletion & production of water resource inventories & maps.

  • National Rivers Conservation of action Plans to improve quality of rivers in India. Central Pollution Control Boards for laying down standards for treatment of sewage & effluents.
  • Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI) performs collection, compilation, analysis & dissemination of information on health conditions in country.
  • Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is responsible for drafting of standards pertaining to drinking water quality.
  • In our country, groundwater is major source of water & around 85 % of population is dependent on it. Nature of quality issue in groundwater is of two types.
  • Firstly it is inherent in form of contamination caused by nature of geological formation, e. g. excess fluoride, arsenic, brackishness, iron etc. Secondly groundwater pollution is caused by human intervention such as intervention of chemical fertilizers.

Technology interventions for Drinking Water

  • Design of hand pumps is very important for better performance efficiency.
  • Diverse water treatment technologies are available to human consumption by removing unwanted chemicals or biological contaminants. Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) established use based classification of surface waters in india
  • Water treatment plants use technology that is both chemical & biologically safe & attractive in terms of colour, smell & taste. Below are some of prevalent technologies for water purification & treatment.
  • Capacitive deionization (CDI) , is a technology in which a separator channel (w/a porous electrode on each side) removes ions from water,
  • Ozonation technique is based on ozone infusion into water for chemical water treatment;
  • In Ultraviolet technology, ultraviolet light is used to kill micro organisms of water,
  • A large majority of contaminants are removed in reverse osmosis technology thru a semi permeable membrane;
  • TERAFIL is burnt red clay porous media used for filtration & treatment of raw water into clean drinking water. This technology has been developed by Council of Scientific & industrial Research (CSIR) ;
  • OS Community scale Arsenic Filter is an Organic arsenic filter which is developed by IIT Kharagpur;
  • Filtration methods that may include rapid/show sand filters which remove rust, silt, dust & other particulate matter from water &
  • Solar water purification systems.
  • Method of filtration of domestic drinking water will vary depending on purification
  • Method used, required level of cleanliness or type of water pollutants.
  • Some of more popular methods for Household Water Treatment & Safe Storage (HWTS) options include boiling, Solar disinfection (SODIS) , Filter combinations, Pureit filters, Chlorine Tablets, Liquid Chlorine (online, Biosand filters, flocculent treatment, Ceramic candle, Ultra Violet filters, Reverse Osmosis & Ion Exchange (IEX) .

Innovation: Key to Resolve Drinking Water Crisis:

  • Clean water & sanitation is sixth goal of SDGs. Under SDG, it is targeted to achieve following global goals by 2030:
  • Universal & equitable access to safe & affordable drinking water for all;
  • Access to adequate & equitable sanitation & hygiene for all end open defecation paying special attention to needs of women & girls & those in vulnerable situations;
  • Improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping & minimizing release of hazardous chemicals & materials, halving proportion of untreated wastewater & substantially increasing recycling & safe reuse globally

Communication & Educational Innovation

  • Internet has inspired innovations in areas of water & sanitation, which have long needed fundamental changes in terms of available information & communication technology.
  • w/internet & other new technological tools, simple, appropriate technologies for supply of water can be implemented within weeks rather than years.
  • Worldwide programs to improve school facilities in developing countries have been developed by agencies such as UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank & WHO.
  • Medical science research has established a direct link betwwn diarrhea & hygiene in schools.
  • Millennium Development Goal 7 United National created an innovative program celled WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) which is essential for all time in improving people՚s health, education & lifestyle, as well as in reducing poverty around world.

Water Security & Sustained Drinking Water Supply

  • Brahmaputra & Barak basin, w/only 7.3 % of geographical area & 4.2 % of country՚s population have 31 % of annul water resources (CPCB (2014) States of Water Quality in India.
  • Groundwater (GW) which is currently lifeline of Rural India as it supports more than 85 % drinking water requirements in rural areas, is depleting at an unprecedented rate.

Drinking Water Situation in Rural India

National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) :

  • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme launched in April, 2009 aimed at providing every person in rural India w/adequate safe water for drinking, cooking & other domestic basic needs on a sustainable basis.
  • A performance audit of NRDWP was conducted by Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) of India in 2018 to assess how far objectives of programme were achieved between 2012 to 2017 & examine various aspects of Programme such as planning, delivery mechanism, fund management, implementation including coverage of partially covered & quality affected habitations, water quality monitoring & surveillance.
  • Due to diff. topography & agro climatic conditions, various regions in India had diff.
  • Structures to utilize & conserve water.
  • Broadly these practices could be classified into following three categories:
  • Obstructing/diverting flow of stream/river
  • Storage in wells/step wells/below ground level storage structure
  • Collection & use of rainwater on surface
  • Annual cleaning of ponds, conservation of forests, distribution of resources etc. was observed as a regular practice across India w/o any Govt. /external support.

Drinking Water Treatment

  • §Choice of treatment technologies would be largely determined by quality of raw water & nature of demand. Few of basic water treatment technologies/methods are discussed below:
  • Slow sand filters (SSF)
  • Chlorination
  • Solar Disinfection (SODIS) -
  • SODIS method utilizes solar energy for water disinfection at household level. A clean & transparent PET plastic bottle (preferably below 2 liters) is filled w/water & kept in direct sunlight for 6 houses during noon on sunny days & two days if sky is more than 50 % clouded.

Policy Recommendations

  • Major policy reforms in regard to rural water mgmt. are discussed below:
  • Better data
  • Basin/Sub basin level water mgmt.
  • Water source improvement
  • Integrated water & waste mgmt.
  • Supply & access augmentation
  • Demand side mgmt.
  • Capacity building
  • Institutional & legislative reforms
  • Revival of traditional wisdom
  • Preparedness for disaters

Access to Drinking Water & Public Health

  • Indus Valley Civilization (specially Mohenjo-Daro & Harappa) had many water supply & sanitation related provision: public & private baths in urban areas; sewage was disposed of thru underground drains built w/precisely laid bricks, & a sophisticated water mgmt. system w/numerous reservoirs was established.
  • There is evidence that Roman Empire had formalized role of state in improving health.
  • Romans believed that state has responsibility of well being of individuals; had a keen sense of sanitation; hygiene & health.
  • Idea of population health or Public health is said to have born in Rome w/development of bath (for hygiene) , sewers (drainage) & aqueducts (to supply safe water to cities) .
  • Scientific linkage & importance of pure drinking water & good health was established around 1840 w/experiments & observations of two British physicians & epidemiologists John Snow, who studied spread of cholera in London from 1848 to 1854 & then William Budd, Who followed up on John Snow՚s Work on Cholera.

Global Development Agenda & Water & Sanitation

  • SDG focuses on water & sanitation & target, calls for universal & equitable access to safe & affordable drinking water.
  • Target is tracked w/indicator of “safely managed drinking water services” drinking water from an improved water source that is located on premises, available when needed, & free from faecal & priority chemical contamination.

Water & Public Health

  • Basic physiological requirement for drinking water is estimated at liters per person per day. In rural India, a norm of liter per person per day is a set target.
  • Contaminated water & poor sanitation are linked to transmission of diseases such as Cholera, Diarrhoea, Dysentery, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E, Typhoid & Polio. In addition to these water transmitted diseases, there are water borne, water related & water washed diseases. Water borne diseases are considered public health problem due to a number of reasons, which includes:
  • their potential to cause large outbreaks;
  • high disease burden;
  • for being major causes of admissions & outpatient visits to hospitals & health facilities mainly amongst young children;
  • for many water borne diseases, no specific treatment is available & prevention is best approach &
  • finally these diseases spread rapidly & may cause panic in community.

Water Borne Diseases: Globally & in India

  • Dairrhoea is most widely know disease linked to contaminated food & water but there are other hazards.
  • Globally, an estimated 8,42, 000 people die each year due to dirrhoea as a result of unsafe drinking water, sanitation & hand hygiene. Yet diarrohoea is largely preventable & deaths of 3,61, 000 children ages under 5 years could be avoided each year if these risk factors were addressed.
  • Water borne diseases are one of key health challenges in India. As per official data published in national health profile of India-2018, nearly a quarter or one in every 4 cases reported & one in every 5 deaths reported are attributable to communicable diseases in India.

Access to Drinking Water in Rural India

  • Ministry of Drinking water & Sanitation (MoDWS) under centrally sponsored National Rural Drinking water Programme (NRDWP) provides financial & technical assistance to State Govt.
  • NRDWP aims at providing every person in rural India w/adequate safe water for drinking, cooking & other domestic basic needs on sustainable basis.
  • A strategic Plan for rural drinking water sector is prepared for period 2011 - 2022, by GOI. Plan aims to extend water supply to more households in rural areas.
  • A National Water Quality Sub-Mission was launched by MoDWS, in March 2017, to address problem of Arsenic & Fluoride affected habitations in country & mitigate concerns.

Availability of Water Adversely Affects Health Service Delivery

  • WHO/UNICEF joint Monitoring Program (JMP) report, ‘WASH in Health Care Facilities’ is a comprehensive global assessment of Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) in health care facilities. It finds that 1 in 8 health care sanitation service impacting close to 900 million & more than 1.5 dillion people, respectively.
  • In 2015, WHO & UNICEF jointly developed WASH FIT (Water & Sanitation for Health Facility Improvement Tool) . WASH FIT aims to guide small, primary health care facilities in low & middle income setting thru a continuous cycle of improvement thru assessments, prioritinuous cycle of improvement thru assessments, prioritization of risk & definition of specific, targeted actions.


  • There is a high burden of water borne diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid & hepatitis, which can be prevented w/improved availability of drinking water.
  • As global development community & India is focusing on advancing universal health coverage & assessing social determinants of health, improved provision of safe drinking water should be prioritized.

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