Drinking water supply and sanitation in India continue to be inadequate, despite longstanding efforts by the various levels of government and communities at improving coverage. The level of investment in water and sanitation, albeit low by international standards, has increased in size during the 2000's. Access has also increased significantly. For example, in 1980 rural sanitation coverage was estimated at 1% and reached 21% in 2008. Also, the share of Indians with access to improved sources of water has increased significantly from 72% in 1990 to 88% in 2008. At the same time, local government institutions in charge of operating and maintaining the infrastructure are seen as weak and lack the financial resources to carry out their functions. In addition, only two Indian cities have continuous water supply and an estimated 69% of Indians still lack access to improved sanitation facilities.
A number of innovative approaches to improve water supply and sanitation have been tested in India, in particular in the early 2000's. These include demand-driven approaches in rural water supply since 1999, community-led total sanitation, a public-private partnerships to improve the continuity of urban water supply in Karnataka, and the use of micro-credit to women in order to improve access to water. The government of Delhi decided that beginning on 1st January 2014 it will provide 666 liters of free water every day to households with functioning water meters.
In 2008, 88% of the population in India had access to an improved water source, but only 31% had access to improved sanitation. In rural areas, where 72% of India’s population lives, the respective shares are 84% for water and only 21% for sanitation. In urban areas, 96% had access to an improved water source and 54% to improved sanitation. Access has improved substantially since 1990 when it was estimated to stand at 72% for water and 18% for sanitation.
In 2010, the UN estimated based on Indian statistics that 626 million people practice open defecation. In June 2012 Minister of Rural Development Mr. Jairam Ramesh stated India is the worlds largest "Open Air Toilet". He also remarked that Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan have better sanitation records.
According to Indian norms, access to improved water supply exists if at least 40 liters/capita/day of safe drinking water are provided within a distance of 1.6 km or 100 meter of elevation difference, to be relaxed as per field conditions. There should be at least one pump per 250 persons.
As of 2003, it was estimated that only 27% of India's waste water was being treated, with the remainder flowing into rivers, canals, groundwater or the sea., For example, the sacred Ganges river is infested with diseases and in some places "the Ganges becomes black and septic. Corpses, of semi-cremated adults or enshrouded babies, drift slowly by. NewsWeek describes Delhi's sacred Yamuna River as "a putrid ribbon of black sludge" where the concentration of fecal bacteria is 10,000 times the recommended safe maximum despite a 15-year program to address the problem. Cholera epidemics are not unknown.
The lack of adequate sanitation and safe water has significant negative health impacts including diarrhoea, referred to by traveler's as the "Delhi Belly", and experienced by about 10 million visitors annually. While most visitors to India recover quickly and otherwise receive proper care. The dismal working conditions of sewer workers are another concern. A survey of the working conditions of sewage workers in Delhi showed that most of them suffer from chronic diseases, respiratory problems, skin disorders, allergies, headaches and eye infections.
Water Supply & Resources:
Depleting ground water table and deteriorating ground water quality are threatening the sustainability of both urban and rural water supply in many parts of India. The supply of cities that depend on surface water is threatened by pollution, increasing water scarcity and conflicts among users. For example, Bangalore depends to a large extent on water pumped since 1974 from the Kaveri River, whose waters are disputed between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. As in other Indian cities, the response to water scarcity is to transfer more water over large distances at high costs. In the case of Bangalore, the ₹33.84 billion (US$575.3 million) Kaveri Stage IV project, Phase II, includes the supply of 500,000 cubic meter of water per day over a distance of 100 km, thus increasing the city's supply by two-thirds.
In some coastal areas seawater desalination is becoming an important source of drinking water supply. For example, the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board has put into service a first large seawater desalination plant with a capacity of 100,000 m3 per day at Minjur in 2010. A contract for a second plant with the same capacity at Nemmeli was awarded in the same year.
Responsibility for Water Supply & Sanitation:
Water supply and sanitation is a State responsibility under the Indian Constitution. States may give the responsibility to the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) in rural areas or municipalities in urban areas, called Urban Local Bodies (ULB). At present, states generally plan, design and execute water supply schemes (and often operate them) through their State Departments (of Public Health Engineering or Rural Development Engineering) or State Water Boards.
Highly centralized decision-making and approvals at the state level, which are characteristic of the Indian civil service, affect the management of water supply and sanitation services. For example, according to the World Bank in the state of Punjab the process of approving designs is centralized with even minor technical approvals reaching the office of chief engineers. A majority of decisions are made in a very centralized manner at the headquarters. In 1993 the Indian constitution and relevant state legislation's were amended in order to decentralize certain responsibilities, including water supply and sanitation, to municipalities. Since the assignment of responsibilities to municipalities is a state responsibility, different states have followed different approaches. According to a Planning Commission report of 2003 there is a trend to decentralize capital investment to engineering departments at the district level and operation and maintenance to district and gram panchayat levels.
Demand-Driven Approaches in Rural Water Supply:
Most rural water supply schemes in India use a centralized, supply-driven approach, i.e. a government institution designs a project and has it built with little community consultation and no capacity building for the community, often requiring no water fees to be paid for its subsequent operation. Since 2002 the Government of India has rolled out at the national level a program to change the way in which water and sanitation services are supported in rural areas. The program, called Swajaldhara, decentralizes service delivery responsibility to rural local governments and user groups. Under the new approach communities are being consulted and trained, and users agree up-front to pay a tariff that is set at a level sufficiently high to cover operation and maintenance costs. It also includes measures to promote sanitation and to improve hygiene behaviour. The national program follows a pilot program launched in 1999.
According to a 2008 World Bank study in 10 Indian states, Swajaldhara results in lower capital costs, lower administrative costs and better service quality compared to the supply-driven approach. In particular, the study found that the average full cost of supply-driven schemes is ₹38 (64.6¢ US) per cubic meter, while it is only ₹26 (44.2¢ US) per cubic meter for demand-driven schemes. These costs include capital, operation and maintenance costs, administrative costs and coping costs incurred by users of malfunctioning systems. Coping costs include travelling long distances to obtain water, standing in long queues, storing water and repairing failed systems. Among the surveyed systems that were built using supply-driven approach system breakdowns were common, the quantity and quality of water supply were less than foreseen in designs, and 30% of households did not get daily supply in summer. The poor functioning of one system sometimes leads to the construction of another system, so that about 30% of households surveyed were served by several systems. As of 2008 only about 10% of rural water schemes built in India used a demand-driven approach. Since water users have to pay lower or no tariffs under the supply-driven approach, this discourages them to opt for a demand-driven approach, even if the likelihood of the systems operating on a sustainable basis is higher under a demand-driven approach.
In absolute terms India receives almost twice as much development assistance for water, sanitation and water resources management as any other country, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. India accounts for 13 per cent of commitments in global water aid for 2006–07, receiving an annual average of about US$830 million (€620 million), more than double the amount provided to China. India's biggest water and sanitation donor is Japan, which provided US$635 million, followed by the World Bank with US$130 million. The annual average for 2004–06, however, was about half as much at US$448 million, of which Japan provided US$293 million and the World Bank US$87 million. The Asian Development Bank and Germany are other important external partners in water supply and sanitation.
In 2003 the Indian government decided it would only accept bilateral aid from five countries (the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, Germany and Japan). A further 22 bilateral donors were asked to channel aid through nongovernmental organisations, United Nations agencies or multilateral institutions such as the European Union, the Asian Development Bank or the World Bank.
Asian Development Bank: India has increased its loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) since 2005 after the introduction of new financing modalities, such as the multitranche financing facility (MFF) which features a framework agreement with the national government under which financing is provided in flexible tranches for sub-projects that meet established selection criteria. In 2008 four MFF's for urban development investment programs were under way in North Karnataka (US$862 million), Jammu and Kashmir (US$1,260 million), Rajasthan (US$450 million), and Uttarakhand (US$1,589 million). Included in these MFF's are major investments for the development of urban water supply and sanitation services.
Germany: Germany supports access to water and sanitation in India through financial cooperation by KfW development bank and technical cooperation by GTZ. Since the early 1990's both institutions have supported watershed management in rural Maharashtra, using a participatory approach first piloted by the Social Center in Ahmednagar and that constituted a fundamental break with the previous top-down, technical approach to watershed management that had yielded little results. The involvement of women in decision-making is an essential part of the project. While the benefits are mostly in terms of increased agricultural production, the project also increases availability of water resources for rural water supply. In addition, GTZ actively supports the introduction of ecological sanitation concepts in India, including community toilets and decentralized waste water systems for schools as well as small and medium enterprises. Many of these systems produce biogas from waste water, provide fertilizer and irrigation water.
Japan: As India's largest donor in the sector the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) finances a multitude of projects with a focus on capital-intensive urban water supply and sanitation projects, often involving follow-up projects in the same locations.
World Bank: The World Bank finances a number of projects in urban and rural areas that are fully or partly dedicated to water supply and sanitation. In urban areas the World Bank supported or supports among others the USD 1.55 bn National Ganga River Basin Project approved in 2011, the Andhra Pradesh Municipal Development Project (approved in 2009, US$300 million loan), the Karnataka Municipal Reform Project (approved in 2006, US$216 million loan), the Third Tamil Nadu Urban Development Project (approved in 2005, US$300 million loan) and the Karnataka Urban Water Sector Improvement Project (approved in 2004, US$39.5 million loan). In rural areas it supports the Andhra Pradesh Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (US$150 million loan, approved in 2009), the Second Karnataka Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (approved in 2001, US$151.6 million loan), the Uttarakhand Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (approved in 2006, US$120 million loan) and the Punjab Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (approved in 2006, US$154 million loan).
Evaluation of past projects. A study by the World Bank's independent evaluation department evaluated the impact of the World Bank-supported interventions in the provision of urban water supply and waste water services in Mumbai between 1973 and 1990. It concluded that water supply and sewerage planning, construction and operations in Bombay posed daunting challenges to those who planned and implemented the investment program. At the outset, there was a huge backlog of unmet demand because of under-investment. Population and economic growth accelerated in the following decades and the proportion of the poor increased as did the slums which they occupied. The intended impacts of the program have not been realized. Shortcomings include that "water is not safe to drink; water service, especially to the poor, is difficult to access and is provided at inconvenient hours of the day; industrial water needs are not fully met; sanitary facilities are too few in number and often unusable; and urban drains, creeks and coastal waters are polluted with sanitary and industrial wastes."
Content Source: EPCWala, Govt. of India & Wikipedia