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A report card on India’s Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation

India's progress on drinking water and sanitation

Seventy-six years after Jawaharlal Nehru’s historic “Tryst with Destiny” speech, India has made significant progress in various aspects of development, but challenges remain. This article assesses India’s progress in providing access to essential services such as clean water and sanitation, electricity, and institutional credit, using less commonly examined metrics. The data used is primarily from National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) reports. It’s important to note that these are sample surveys and should be interpreted with caution.

Exclusive access to drinking water remains a significant issue in rural India

Access to clean water is fundamental to human health and overall quality of life. The 2018 NSSO survey revealed that in rural areas, hand-pumps were the principal source of drinking water. However, urban areas had piped water into dwellings. However, only 48.6% of rural households and 57.5% of urban households had exclusive access to their principal source of drinking water. About 31% of rural households used unrestricted public water sources. At the same time, 16% of urban households shared their principal water source with others.

This data suggests that less than half of rural households had exclusive access to clean drinking water in 2018. The government’s Jal Jeevan Mission, launched in 2019, aims to provide tap water connections to every rural household. As of August 2023, the mission has provided tap water connections to 66% of rural households.

Sanitation facilities continue to be inadequate in rural areas

Proper sanitation facilities, including toilets and latrines, are essential for public health. Lack of clean water and sanitation can lead to the spread of diseases. The NSSO data shows that there has been a gradual decline in the percentage of households without latrine facilities in both urban and rural areas. In urban areas, the percentage of households without latrine facilities decreased from 36.9% in 1959-60 to 3.8% in 2018. In rural areas, the decrease was more significant, from 88.8% to 28.7% over the same period. There was a substantial improvement between the 69th Round (2012) and the 76th Round (2018), with rural areas showing a decline from 59.4% to 28.7%.

 

Between the 65th Round (2009) and the 76th Round (2018), the percentage of rural households with exclusive-use latrines increased from 27.9% to 63.2%. In urban areas, it increased from 58.1% to 77.6%. The Swachh Bharat Mission, launched in 2014, aimed to achieve universal sanitation coverage. As of August 2023, approximately 70% of Indian villages are declared “Open Defecation Free (ODF) Plus” villages. However, there have been reports questioning the accuracy of these claims.

In short, India has made significant progress in providing access to clean water and sanitation, electricity. However, disparities persist, with rural areas facing particular challenges in sanitation and credit access. The government’s initiatives, such as the Jal Jeevan Mission and Swachh Bharat Mission, have made substantial strides but may require closer scrutiny to ensure their effectiveness. Additionally, efforts should be directed towards reducing the rural-urban divide in access to electricity and institutional credit to promote more inclusive development. As India continues its journey, it must remain committed to addressing these essential needs to improve the quality of life for all its citizens, fulfilling the vision set forth by Nehru 76 years ago. Doulton Water filters can provide the much need access to safe drinking water, even in the absence of electricity. It also ensures zero water wastage in the name of filtration, unlike RO filters.

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If your water source is borewell/tanker etc with TDS above 500 ppm, we do not recommend Doulton Water Filters.

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  • *If your water source is borewell/tanker etc with TDS above 500 ppm, we do not recommend Doulton Water Filters.

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