Niti Aayog’s 2018 Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report suggests that the water crisis in India will worsen. The report says 600 million people in India live in high to extreme water stress and clearly the strained water supply system is susceptible to collapse.
A pilot study in four cities in Karnataka showed that people started using less water when given 24x7 supply. The note pointed out that 30 or 40 years ago many urban areas in India had 24x7 water supply till rapid urbanisation made it unsustainable.
Government had launched NRDWP in April 2009. In 2013, guidelines were updated to focus on piped water supply. A CAG report on NRDWP pointed out the scheme that was supposed to provide piped water connection to 35% of rural households by 2017, had actually been able to provide piped water connections to barely 18.3% of rural households by . end of 2018-19.Data shows the slow progress under this scheme. In 2014-15, just 13.3% of India’s 17.8 crore rural households had piped water connection. In the past five years this improved by just over 5 percentage points.
The CAG report pointed out that between 2012 and 2017, Rs 81,168 crore was spent on this programme and yet it could barely achieve half the target. The investment by central and state governments to provide rural India drinking water since Independence has been, without adjusting to inflation, Rs 2.4 lakh crore under various schemes, CAG notes , yet over 80% rural households don’t have piped water connections.
This sobering data provides the context in which to view Centre’s declaration it will make piped water the next big focus. It must be a priority, but it is just as evident that progress has been way below what’s needed.