Kurukshetra June 2019 Water Issues (Part-3) (Download PDF)


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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 disasters

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 &
  • 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.
  • 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.

- Published/Last Modified on: June 22, 2019


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