Kurukshetra June 2019 - Drinking Water for Rural India (Part 3)

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Rural Drinking Water Supply Infrastructure:- Monitoring, Operation & Maintenance Infrastructure of Rural Drinking Water supply: More than 80 % of rural habitations is covered under National Rural Development water Programme (NRDWP) in other words created drinking water infrastructure in rural areas followed by partially covered habitations (15.59 %) .

Drinking Water Infrastructure under SWAJAL in Aspirational districts:

  • MoDWS launched SWAJAL, which is a community demand driven, decentralized, single village, preferably solar powered, mini Piped water supply programme for 112 aspirational districts in 27 States identified by NITI Aayog.
  • Aspirational districts have low coverage of habitations w/piped water supply as compared to National Coverage. It challenges aspirational districts to have demand based scheme instead of a routine supply based one.
  • Swajal would ideally be implemented as groundwater based Piped Water Supply (PWS) scheme in all habitations of these districts.
  • Swajal was originally launched as a pilot scheme in February 2018 in six States of Bihar Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand & Rajasthan.
  • 2255 schemes is identified for implementation in eight states. States Govt. are advised to access funds under ″ Flexi Funds՚ under NRDWP.
  • A first of its kind Training of Trainers (ToTs) programme has been organized by Ministry w/assistance from UNICEF in recent past.
  • Infrastructure of Water thru Convergence for Swachh Bharat Mission
  • A conjoint approach to water & sanitation is being adopted thru convergence w/National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) & SBM (G) .
  • Villages which is declared ODF are given priority for Piped Water Schemes under NRDWP. Out of 8,02, 054 Habitations in Open Defecation Free (ODF) declared villages, 4,22, 305 Habitations is provided Piped Water Supply Schemes (PWSS) (2017) .

Water APP for monitoring water supply schemes:

  • RWS mobile App has been developed by Ministry in technical collaboration w/NIC for monitoring of schemes on state/district/block/panchayat/village level & description of those schemes are available thru this mobile application Use can upload photographs of beneficiaries/Source/Delivery Points using a Smartphone.
  • While capturing photograph, latitude & longitude of location as well as date time stamp is recorded automatically & gets uploaded on central server of Mission which is housed in National Data Centre.

Drinking Water Quality Monitoring

  • Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) facilities Ministry & line
  • Departments to monitor coverage status of rural habitations & population w/potable drinking water. Salient features of system are listed below.
  • Provides near to real time coverage status of a particular habitation available w/water supply assets created within that habitation & their functionality status thereby promoting transparency.
  • Allows viewing of quality status of a source to find out if safe potable water is available in a particular habitation.
  • Facilitates monitoring of covered habitations which have slipped back to uncovered status again.
  • Helps in elimination of repeated investments in some habitations while other uncovered/difficult habitations remain deprived.
  • Achieves high transparency thru user friendly reports available in public domain. Creates interaction between Govt. & PRIs as both can monitor community based programs & status of water supply assets handed over to PRIs.
  • SMS & email automation is used to generate daily basis SMS alerts & sent to Ministry officials for monitoring of daily MPR reported, expenditure habitation covered etc.

Operation & Maintenance (O&M) of Infrastructure of Rural Drinking Water Supply

  • Operation refers to timely & daily operation of components of a Water Supply System such as headworks, treatment plant, machinery & equipment, conveying mains, service reservoirs & distribution system etc. , effectively by various technical personnel as a routine function.
  • Maintenance is defined as act od keeping structures, plants, . Machinery & equipment & other facilities in optimum working order.
  • Community based O&M of drinking water projects in aimed at enhancing provision of safe drinking water to rural communities thru community managed drinking water projects.

Role of Gram Panchayat (GP) in O&M:

  • Village Panchayat/GP would pass a resolution for taking up maintaining works in distribution system of multi village WSS which is under their maintenance. Works may be such as attending leaks & burst changing gate value, extension of pipe, replacement of old pipeline etc.
  • GP may pass necessary resolution for executing above works utilizing Panchayat funds. GP would maintain their single village water supply sachems & attend repair works in components such as pump sets pipeline etc. and collect water charges as fixed by respective state Govt.
  • GP may provide household tap connections after passing GP resolution & after obtaining concurrence of PHED/Boards/PRIs Engineer.
  • GP incur expenditure on water supply maintence work as per finance limit as fixed by State Govt. when expenditure exceeds limit countersignature of Block Engineer may be obtained.
  • GP would collect water charge from households at rate fixed by Govt. / DWSM.
  • GP should remit monthly bulk water charges to PHED/Board every Month.
  • For effective maintenance of Distribution system VWSC assist GP.
  • GP should consult & discuss w/VWSC before taking any decision/resolution regarding water supply maintenance works
  • VWSC is fully empowered to supervise & monitor all water supply maintenance works.

VWSC undertakes following activities:

  • To assist Panchayat to appoint a suitable candidate for post of scheme operator/plumber etc.
  • To ensure equitable distribution of water for all section of village population.
  • To assist Panchayat in collection of water charges.
  • To check whether water distributed is free from contamination & whether having adequate residual chlorination using Field test kit or by sending a water sample to nearest labs of PHED/Other institution.
  • To clean & chlorinate OHTs periodically
  • To assist Panchayat in 100 % collection of water charges.
  • To close all illegal connection & pit taps.
  • Cases pertaining to theft of water & damage to assets of water supply scheme treated as public offence.
  • Conclusion
  • Monitoring tools such as Water APP & Drinking Water Quality Testing are ensuring sustainable safe drinking water to rural people.

Safe Rural Drinking Water Supply: A Study on ROs and Water ATWs

  • To address quality problems in water, Gram Panchayats have decided setting up technology such as RO. Daily operation & maintenance (O& M) of such plants is most likely to go beyond capacity of a Gram Panchayat to handle.
  • GPs invite private players, & NGOs/CSRs to run RO Plants, often on commercial terms.
  • Reverse Osmosis Plants (Popularly known as RO Plants) came up in order to address problem of physiochemical contaminants in drinking water.
  • Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has given acceptable/permissible limits to number of minerals in drinking water. RO technology is used for removing excessive minerals from drinking water.
  • RO Technology that started w/simple sand filtration & charcoal filtration comes w/multiple modules. practice of setting up RO plants in rural areas started as a gift or give away from some NGOs, INGOs & CSR Projects.
  • Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation (MDWS) maintains an MIS portal to keep track of number.


  • Examine exposition behind (explanation for) setting up of RO Plants/Water ATWs in study States vis-à-vis quality of water.
  • Determine performance of RO Plants & water ATWs in terms of delivering safe water to rural households.
  • Find out community perception of quality quantity, pricing & new culture of swiping for water.
  • Analyze role of Gram Panchayats in ensuring an adequate quantity of safe water to various segments of community in states under study.
  • Case Study:
  • Study covered 21 Gram panchayats w/RO Plants from seven states, viz. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Telengana, Gujarat, Panjab, & Rajasthan.

Data Collection

  • BIS standards for drinking water quality is used to determine acceptable & permissible limits of various minerals in drinking water from sample villages.

Water Quality Standards

  • Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has specified drinking water quality standards in India to provide safe drinking water to people.
  • Revised edition of IS 10500: 2012 standard specified by BIS is followed in Uniform Drinking Water Quality Monitoring Protocol, This standard has two limits i.e.. desirable limits & maximum permissible or cause for rejection limits.


  • Telengana villages an NGO has set up RO Plants for free. In Andhra Parades villages a private Plants firm has set up RO Plants, besides once set up by State Govt. of Andhra Pradesh.
  • New culture of swiping ATW card for water coin- operated system, coupon system etc. is bringing about a new culture of paying for water, which state govt. have been striving to put in place for long.
  • Perhaps will ease meeting out O & M expenses of water supply which is one of major expenses of water supply which is one of major expenditure items for any GP in India.
  • RO, as a purification technology is infamous because of huge quantity of reject water system ejects in process of purification.
  • Study concludes that RO Plants are set up as following a ‘trend’ is only partly true because out of 21 cases have been set up to address a genuine water quality problem.


§Water safety plan aims at minimizing risks of contamination via sanitary surveillance & by providing treated water for drinking.

Revival of Traditional Rainwater harvesting Structures in Rajasthan

  • State supports about 5 % of human population & 20 % of groundwater available in India.
  • State is heavily dependent on groundwater for drinking water & irrigation. About 90 % of drinking water & 60 % of irrigation water is sourced from groundwater supplies.

Traditional Rainwater Harvesting (TRH) Structures:

  • 100 of years ago, rulers of princely states in Rajasthan had created structures for rainwater harvesting, now called traditional rainwater harvesting (TRH) structures.
  • These structures catered to local needs, utilised local resources & were based on wisdom & knowledge handed down from generation to generation.
  • They were replenished each year w/monsoon rain & served people all round year.

Main TRH structures in Rajasthan


  • essentially a circular undergrounded well w/a sauce shaped catchment area that gently slopes towards centre where well is situated.


  • 10 - 12 meter deep pit dug near tanks to collect seepage.
  • It is used to harvest rainwater in areas w/meager rainfall.
  • Mouth of pit is made narrow to prevent collected water from evaporating.
  • Structures are generally covered w/wooden planks.


  • Community well whose water is used mainly for drinking.
  • Having been built by banjaras (mobile trading communities) for their drinking water needs


  • Jhalara is a Human made tank,
  • Meant for community bathing & religious rites
  • Rectangular in design
  • Steps on three or four sides
  • It collects subterranean seepage of a lake located upstream.


  • Small excavated or embanked village pond used for storing water from an adjoining natural catchment during rainy season its depth ranges from 1.5 to 12 meters.
  • This practice of water harvesting is over 500 years old


  • Natural ground depression within a catchment area.
  • It is usually flanked by groves of shady trees, which helps in reducing evaporation of water.


  • Small circular or square underground tank constructed w/lime mortar or cement plaster.
  • Normally constructed on fallow ground where surface runoff can be diverted to tank by creating a clean catchment all around.


  • It is a Construction designed to harvest surface run-off water for agriculture.
  • An earthen bund is put in place on which trees & grasses are established.
  • These help in stabilizing bund & reducing evaporation losses.


It is a small earthen check dam that captures & conserves rainwater, improving percolation & recharging ground water.


  • It is a structure constructed across a stream.
  • It uses an earth fill section w/a spillway & is designed to hold sufficient water to submerge a substantial upstream area during rainy season.

Dysfunctional State of TRH Structures

  • Main reasons for dysfunctional state of TRH structures are:
  • Availability of other sources of water (piped water, hand pumps & canal water) ;
  • Requirement of financial resources for their use & maintenance;
  • Requirement of time & labour to use water from these structures; Lack of ownership & participation of community, &
  • Tendency to disregard age old & time tested lifestyle in favour of latest technology in name of modernization;

Revival Strategies for TRH Structures

  • Tarun Bharat Sangha (TBS) has received maximum attention. TBS has been working on revival of johad since 1986.
  • NGO revived five river systems, which were dried up for last several decades. By 2016,11, 600 johads had been built in 1280 villages most of them in Alwar dist. Of state
  • TBS relied on community participation by undertaking padyatras & involving religious leaders.
  • Entire area which was earlier classified under ‘dark zone’ , got converted to ‘white zone’ .
  • Rajendra Singh, who runs NGO was awarded Ramon Magsaysay award for community leadership in 2001 & Stockholm Water Prize (known as Nobel Prize for water) in 2015.
  • Jal Bhagirathi Foundation (JBF) , founded in 2002 has been working in area of water security for Marwar region, comprising seven districts. In western part of state.
  • JBF promotes revival & construction of TRH structures by using inexpensive, simple & traditional technology.
  • JBF has revived or constructed over 2,000 TRH structures covering about 500 villages. Financial sustainability & community ownership are ensured thru a development fund, called Jal Kosh, in which community deposits at least 30 % of project cost.
  • Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (GRAVIS) has built over 7,000 tanks & over 600 beris in Thar desert area. Focus has been on capacity building of rural communities by involving them in this task.
  • Samajik Vikas Sansthan has promoted restoration of existing ponds & underground

Water storage systems & construction of new ones in Shekhawati area.

  • Mewar Krishak Vikas Samiti has constructed about 30 nadis in Rajsamand district.
  • Bhoruka Charitable Trust has encouraged villages in Charu district to build & renovate kundis & johads.
  • 2015 Vedanta Cairn was involved in cleaning & maintaining Bhap nadi in Barmer district, benefitting 19 villages.
  • Lupin Limited has been involved in constructing check dams & anicuts in Bharatpur & Dholapur Districts.
  • Educational & research in institutions have involved in working for popularizing revival of TRH structures.
  • In 1990s Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI) , jodhpur developed improved technology of Tanka construction for various types of users (capacity ranging from 5000 liters for individual family to 600,000 liters for community use) using stone masonry w/cement plaster & cement concrete.
  • A working paper prepared by researchers from CAZRI for international Water Management Institute in 2005 observed that TRH systems, are improved & untied on a large scale, they can meet requirements of drinking water of rural population & mitigate drought impact, at least partially
  • In 2016 state Govt. launched a comprehensive scheme to ensure effective

Implementation of water conservation & water harvesting related activities in rural areas.

  • It aims to cover about 21,000 villages w/7 lakh water conservation structures in four years.
  • Following Union Government՚s Model Bill for Ground Water Management (2011) & National Water Policy (2012) State Government has made rainwater harvesting mandatory for all public establishments & all properties in plots covering more than 500 sq. m in urban areas.

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