Water supply and sanitation in India -Part 1
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 during the 2000s. 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, no major city in India is known to have a continuous water supply and an estimated 72% 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 2000s. 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
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.
According to Indian norms, access to improved water supply exists ifat 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.
Water and sanitation service quality in India is generally poor, although there has been some limited progress concerning continuity of supply in urban areas and access to sanitation in rural areas.
Challenges. None of the 35 Indian cities with a population of more than one million distribute water for more than a few hours per day, despite generally sufficient infrastructure. Owing to inadequate pressure people struggle to collect water even when it is available. According to the World Bank, none have performance indicators that compare with average international standards. A 2007 study by the Asian Development Bank showed that in 20 cities the average duration of supply was only 4.3 hours per day. No city had continuous supply. The longest duration of supply was 12 hours per day in Chandigarh, and the lowest was 0.3 hours per day in Rajkot. In Delhi residents receive water only a few hours per day because of inadequate management of the distribution system. This results in contaminated water and forces households to complement a deficient public water service at prohibitive 'coping' costs; the poor suffer most from this situation. For example, according to a 1996 survey households in Delhi spent an average of 2,182 (US$48.4) per year in time and money to cope with poor service levels. This is more than three times as much as the 2001 water bill of about US$18 per year of a Delhi household that uses 20 cubic meters per month.
Achievements. Jamshedpur, a city in Jharkhand with 573,000 inhabitants, provided 25% of its residents with continuous water supply in 2009. Navi Mumbai, a planned city with more than 1m inhabitants, has achieved continuous supply for about half its population as of January 2009. Badlapur, another city in the Mumbai Conurbation with a population of 140,000, has achieved continuous supply in 3 out of 10 operating zones, covering 30% of its population. Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala state with a population of 745,000 in 2001, is probably the largest Indian city that enjoys continuous water supply.
Most Indians depend on on-site sanitation facilities. Recently, access to on-site sanitation have increased in both rural and urban areas. In rural areas, total sanitation has been successful (see below). In urban areas, a good practice is the Slum Sanitation Program in Mumbai that has provided access to sanitation for a quarter million slum dwellers. Sewerage, where available, is often in a bad state. In Delhi the sewerage network has lacked maintenance over the years and overflow of raw sewage in open drains is common, due to blockage, settlements and inadequate pumping capacities. The capacity of the 17 existing wastewater treatment plants in Delhi is adequate to cater a daily production of waste water of less than 50% of the drinking water produced. Of the 2.5 Billion people in the world that defecate openly, some
665 million live in India. This is of greater concern as 88% of deaths from diarrhea occur because of unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
As of 2003, it was estimated that only 27% of India's wastewater 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 fecal bacteria is 10,000 over safety limits 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 diarrhea, referred to by travelers 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 World Health Organisation estimated that around 700,000 Indians die each year from diarrhea. 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.