According to a 2018 NITI Aayog report, 600 million people, or nearly half of India’s population, are facing severe water scarcity. That three-quarters of India’s rural households lack access to piped, potable water and must rely on unsafe sources. India has surpassed the world’s largest extractor of groundwater, accounting for 25% of total extraction, 70% of the water are contaminated, and pollution is killing its’ major rivers.
To understand the water issue in India, it’s essential to notice the water consumption patterns and water availability in India. Although India has 18% of the global population, it only has 4% of the world’s water resources, in which, groundwater and rainfall are sources of water.
Agriculture, rather than household or industrial usage, utilizes approximately 85% of India’s water supply. The farmers rely heavily on rains or groundwater for their needs, as only 40% of their irrigation is guaranteed. Although India’s monsoon season lasts four months, there are only 30 days of severe rain. And our rainwater conservation efforts are woefully inadequate. Rainwater should be saved for agricultural purposes.
However, more than 50% of their population today has no access to safe drinking water and about 2 of their population having access to clean drinking water, which were given a lower priority in coverage. This suggests that water-stressed regions continue to suffer, as do women and girls, given that fetching water has long been considered a woman’s duty in India, particularly in rural areas.
Wells, ponds, and tanks are drying up as groundwater supplies are depleted owing to over-reliance and unsustainable usage. This has exacerbated the water situation, placing an even larger strain on women in terms of water availability. Several young girls are denied education just because they are responsible for collecting water.
According to the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) 76th round, one in every five or 21.4% of Indian homes has piped drinking water connections. The situation is even worse in rural India, where just 11.3% of families have access to drinkable water. Hand pumps, tube wells, public taps, piped water from a neighbour, protected or unprotected wells, and private or public taps are still used by around 58.3% of homes. Hand pumps were the most often used primary source of drinking water in rural regions, accounting for 42.9% of total consumption. According to the Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Housing Condition Survey, hand pumps are the major source of drinking water in rural regions (42.9%), whereas piped water is the primary source in urban India.
The Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission was established by the Indian government over a five-year period. This project is being supported by USAID by raising awareness of WASH challenges and generating demand for solutions from individuals and local government entities; piloting innovative solutions; and assisting the Government of India in scaling up successful methods.
The ambitious plan to provide tap water to 191 million rural households by 2024, from one out of six existing households with tap water, was launched in August 2019.
The government encourages the community to involve in running and maintaining their home water supply in the form of Pani Samitis. They are also focusing on ensuring the sustainability of water quality and supply rather than treating it as an overnight thing. The most important result of these efforts is that women, who carry the burden of fetching water for households, wasting precious time, are being freed from that toil. This in itself will prove liberating. In addition to ease of living, there is a clear link between socioeconomic development and water availability.
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