Potable Water accessibility

Context: Recently WHO said that piped potable water across India will avert 4,00,000 diarrhoea deaths.

Status of Water Accessibility in India

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  • As per UNICEF two-thirds of India’s 718 districts are affected by extreme water depletion.
  • One of the challenges is the fast rate of groundwater depletion in India, 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 supplies 85 per cent of drinking water in rural areas and 48 per cent of water requirements in urban areas.
  • Close to 54 per cent of rural women – as well as some adolescent girls – spend an estimated 35 minutes getting water every day, equivalent to the loss of 27 days’ wages over a year.
  • Less than 49 per cent of the rural population is using safely managed drinking water (improved water supply located on-premises, available when needed and free of contamination)

Impacts of  Potable Water Accessibility

  • It will help in reducing the number of deaths associated with water accessibility like diarrhoea etc.
  • This would avoid 14 million DALYs (Disability Adjusted Life Years) from diarrhoea, save close to $101 billion and 66.6 million hours every day of time that would otherwise have been spent — predominantly by women — collecting water.
  • A DALY represents the loss of the equivalent of one year of full health and is a way to account for the years of life lost due to premature mortality (YLLs) and the years lived with a disability (YLDs), due to prevalent cases of a disease or a health condition, in a population.
  • It is estimated that waterborne diseases have an economic burden of approximately USD 600 million a year in India.
  • School attendance in India decreases when children are required to spend hours collecting water. A 22 per cent increase in school dropout rates has been reported in drought-affected states.

Steps Taken for Potable Water Accessibility

  • In 2019, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) was restructured and the Ministry of Jal Shakti (meaning “power of water”), was bifurcated into two key departments – the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, and the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
  • In August 2019, the union Government launched the Jal Jeevan (Water for Life) Mission.
  • The Centre says it will achieve 100% coverage under the Jal Jeevan Mission by 2024;
  • So far five States, including Gujarat, Telangana, Haryana and Punjab, have reported full coverage. 
  • Grassroots-level support is being prioritized, and communities play a pivotal role in the planning, implementation, operation and maintenance of their schemes. 
  • Around 11,000 Implement Support Agencies (ISAs, mainly NGOs) are being  trained to support the implementation of the JJM, covering aspects such as
  • community empowerment and engagement,
  • water quality testing and surveillance,
  • utility operation, water safety and security planning,
  • source sustainability measures,
  • such as recharge and reuse through grey water management,
  • water conservation and rainwater harvesting.

Mains Practice Question

Investing in water and sanitation results in many benefits, including economic, environmental, quality of life, and health” Elucidate. (250 words 15 marks)

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