Water supply and sanitation - Assessment - A WHO-UNICEF sponsored study (2002)

This report includes the findings of a study by the Planning Commission sponsored by the World Health Organisation and The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) that conducted an assessment of the water and sanitation situation in India in 2002. The assessment revealed that:

  • The agriculture sector accounted for between 90 to 95 per cent of surface and ground water in India, while industry and the domestic sector accounted for the remaining. Wide regional disparities in water availability existed.
    Between 69 to 74 per cent of India’s rural population procured their drinking water from protected sources, leaving an unserved population of 26 to 31 per cent. Between 91 to 93 per cent of India’s urban population procured their drinking water from protected sources, leaving an unserved population of between seven to nine per cent.
  • Water quality problems included Fluoride (66 million people across 17 states are estimated to be at risk), excess Arsenic in ground water (nearly 13.8 million people in 75 blocks are reported at risk), varying iron levels, presence of nitrates and heavy metals, bacteriological contamination and salinity.
  • Analysis of sanitation coverage data from various sources showed that despite the acceleration of coverage under the Eighth Plan, only between 18 to 19 per cent of all rural households had a toilet. However, there had been increase in coverage, from around 10 per cent in 1990.
  • At the same time, between 75 to 81 per cent of all urban households in India had toilets, an increase from the 1990 figures of around 64 per cent. As in the case of water supply, disparities across states existed.
  • On the urban front, while access to household toilets in urban India was relatively high, sanitation beyond home toilets was a different story. Out of 300 Class-1 cities, about 70 had partial sewerage systems and sewage treatment facilities.
  • Of the total wastewater generated in the metropolitan cities, barely 30 per cent was treated before disposal. Thus, untreated water found its way into water systems such as rivers, lakes, groundwater and coastal waters, causing serious water pollution

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