Unravelling the Blueprint for India's Clean Water Future

Providing safe drinking water to entire rural and urban population is a challenge the Central Government has undertaken. Jal Jiwan Mission is a flagship programme of the government.

Sharad Gupta
New Update
Jal Jiwan

Safe Water

Clean and safe drinking water is a fundamental human right. Ensuring clean water and sanitation is the 6 th goal of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which calls for access to safe and affordable drinking water, sanitation facilities, and hygiene for all by 2030, yet millions of Indians continue to face challenges in securing this basic necessity. India is placed at 120th amongst 122 countries in Water Quality Index and 133rd in the world in Water Availability per person per annum.

India constitutes around 18% of the global population, but it possesses a mere 4% of the world’s freshwater resources. With changing weather patterns and frequent droughts, the country faces water scarcity. Two-thirds of India’s 718 districts face severe water scarcity, which is known as the world’s highest user of this source due to the proliferation of drilling over the past few decades. Groundwater from over 30 million access points, provides 85% of drinking water in rural areas and 48% of water needs in urban regions. (JMP 2017). 

 In 2018, NITI Aayog also warned that India was experiencing its most severe water crisis ever with around 600 million people facing high-to-extreme water stress and approximately 200,000 lives were lost annually due to insufficient access of safe water. Water quality remains a significant concern in both rural and urban areas.

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Over 95 Per Cent Coverage

Amidst these appalling report, National Family Health Survey (NFHS)’s survey 2019-21, gives us lights of hope. In the past half-a-decade, access to drinking water sources and sanitation facilities has improved in most Indian states, as per the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS). According to this survey, 94.6% of rural households in India have access to an improved drinking water source. 99% of urban households also have access to an improved drinking water source.

 While many states are making progress towards universal access to clean drinking water, some still report that every third or fourth person lacks access to improved facilities. The survey covered 17 states and five Union territories. In the past five years, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Nagaland showed considerable progress in providing better drinking water access, according to a survey of 22 states. Bihar ranked highest, with 99% of its population having access to improved drinking water sources.

With the exception of Manipur, Meghalaya, Assam, Tripura, and Ladakh, more than 90% of the population in the remaining 17 states and union territories now have access to improved drinking water sources.

To tackle or combat these challenges, India has a separate ministry i.e. Ministry of Jal Shakti formed in May 2019 by merging two ministries: the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, and Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation. The government has implemented several schemes over the years like Jal Jeevan Mission, National Water Mission, Jal Shakti Abhiyan, Har Ghar Jal, etc.

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Government Schemes 

• National Water Mission (NWM) The National Water Mission, a component of India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), was initiated in 2011. Conserving water, cutting down on waste, and improving the effective use of water resources are its main goals. The mission aims to tackle water-related issues through sustainable practices and encourage water efficiency across diverse sectors. Important campaigns run by NWM are Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain, R & D in Water Sector, Bureau of Water Use Efficiency, etc.

 • Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) The Jal Jeevan Mission is a flagship program by the Indian government. Launched in August 2019, with the aim of supplying potable water to every rural household through tap water connection.

The Progress

Significant progress has been made in the country since the launch of Jal Jeevan Mission, towards enhancing access to tap water to rural households. Merely 3.23 Crore (16.8%) rural households were reported to have tap water connection at the beginning of the Jal Jeevan Mission in August 2019. Under this mission, as of January 30, 2024, more than 10.98 crore additional rural households have been provided with tap water connection. As a result, as of January 30, 2024, over 14.21 crore (73.76%) of the 19.27 crore rural households in the nation reported having access to tap water.

Jal Kranti Abhiyan, Atal Bhoojal Yojana, Jal Shakti Abhiyan, etc are some of the other major initiatives taken by the GOI. Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) launched on 2015, focuses on the urban areas.

Desired Measures 

Common people engagement, Investment in Infrastructure, enabling provision to involve local government institutions for implementation, involving committed NGOs, CSOs for Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), Use of new and advanced technologies for efficient implementation, are some of the measures that can be taken to improve availability of pure drinking water to every Indians.

In order to achieve universal access to safe drinking water, India must invest in infrastructure, ensure sustainable water management, and resolve regional imbalances. Governments, NGOs, and communities must work together to close the gap and ensure a healthier future for all Indians