These papers published by FORWARD provides a background on the water crisis in India and describes the water and sanitation situation in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The paper argues that the reasons for the water crisis in India include the excessive demand for water from the growing urban population; depleting groundwater levels due to exploitation; contamination of existing water bodies; mismanagement of waste water; neglect of protecting and promoting water harvesting systems; and poor policy and its implementation.
The paper addresses the following key objectives:
- To review different programmes and approaches for water supply in the country
- To examine the status of rural drinking water supply in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra
- To identify the issues related to water availability, quality, sustainability and role of government functionaries at different levels
- To examine the status of sanitation in the state and identify the gaps
- To suggest policy measures for achieving sustainable water supply in the state
The paper argues that issues related to water present complex challenges in terms of access and availability and that the way out can include attempts at:
- Reviving and modernizing a variety of traditional water harvesting systems in the country
- Strengthening local level institutions
- Emphasizing knowledge-sharing and women-primacy in water governance
Governmental Initiatives in drinking water supply in rural India indicate that:
- Provision of drinking water continues to be looked upon as a responsibility ‘binding’ on the state. Lack of regulation of the water supply in rural areas, lack of revision of the minimal water tax/ charge have led to lack of generation of funds at the state level
- There continues to be a lack of coordination between regional and village level schemes
- Emphasis on piped water supply has led to neglect of surface and rainwater harvesting and conservation systems
- There continues to be a lack of reliable data on the extent of the scarcity of water in the states
- The constitutional rights and responsibilities related to water are blurred within the federal framework
- Majority of the water schemes continue to be implemented in the easily accessible villages, while neglecting remote villages with severe water scarcity
- A significant progress in terms of coverage of water supply can be seen ,but sustainability and water quality are two pressing issues that need attention
- 36 per cent of households have access to some form of sanitation, while for rural India the figure is as low as 22 per cent
Madhya Pradesh: Demographic Profile
- Madhya Pradesh is among the most backward and poverty stricken states of the country with 37.43 per cent (1999-2000) population falling below poverty line.
- Though Madhya Pradesh is endowed with five major rivers, Ganga, Godavari, Narmada, Mahi and Tapi, it depends almost exclusively on ground water (99 per cent) for drinking purpose.
- Overexploitation of groundwater can be seen in many parts of the state, which could be due to the increasing use of handpumps/tubewells. The present groundwater status in half the districts comes under semi-critical, critical and over exploited category.
- The district wise data for water covergae shows that in some of the districts the coverage is so poor that less than 50 per cent habitations get access to 40-lpcd of water supply.
- Many of the regions in the state suffer from high incidence of fluoride, nitrate, salinity and iron contents in groundwater
- 91 per cent of rural households do not have access to any form of toilets and 89 per cent do not have a bathing unit.
- 20 per cent of the rural households have wastewater outlet within the house and 90 per cent of them are connected through open drainage.
- The most important reason for the failure of TSC in Madhya Pradesh can be identified as the poor level of community awareness regarding sanitary and hygiene practices.
Demographic and administrative profile of Maharashtra indicates that:
- The state is divided into three physiographic zones: a) the Sahyadri Range (Western Ghats); b) the Western Coastal Tract (Konkan); and c) the Eastern Plateau (Deccan Plateau).
- There are around 400 rivers in Maharashtra with a total length of around 20000 km
- 30 per cent area under irrigation in Maharashtra depends on groundwater sources and nearly 80 per cent of rural water supplies are based on groundwater.
- There has been an increase in the use of tap, handpump and tubewell as source of drinking water whereas use of surface water and well has decreased
- Maharashtra is the first state in the country to launch a state-wide programme for reforming the water supply and sanitation sector
- The water supply coverage data of last four years shows a slow, but steady progress at the state level
- Out of the 26 districts under the SRP, 18 are facing problems related to groundwater quantity and quality.
- Maharashtra’s hydrological and geographical features make the process of water conservation and recharge difficult
- Sustainability of the water sources during summer months is a problem faced by majority of the districts in the state
- Evidence indicates that water supply scheme designs in the state continue to be non sustainable, equipment and construction are sub-standard. Existing schedule of rates also needs to be revised. Proper yield testing, source protection, community awareness and monitoring are essentials that currently are ignored, which results in wastage of funds.
- The state government’s commitment to economic pricing of water is lacking. This has reduced the reliability of underground water sources and forced the use of more expensive surface water sources, which often involve pumping water over long distances
- The Rural Sanitation Programme in Maharashtra has achieved impressive coverage status since 1996 under the Centrally sponsored Rural Sanitation Programme and the Minimum Needs Programme
- A number of field surveys have revealed that a high proportion of toilets are not being used for its designated purpose.
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