RSTV IAS UPSC – Ensuring Water Security

  • IASbaba
  • January 4, 2020
  • 0
The Big Picture- RSTV, UPSC Articles
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Ensuring Water Security



General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

General Studies 3:

  • Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

In News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently released the operational guidelines of Jal Jeevan Mission.

Jal Jeevan Mission

Government of India has restructured and subsumed the ongoing National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) into Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) to provide Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) to every rural household i.e., Har Ghar Nal Se Jal (HGNSJ) by 2024.

Proposed Jal Jeevan Mission will be a decentralised, community-managed and sustainable water management scheme –

  • Out of 17.87 crore rural households in the country about 14.6 crore which accounts for 81.67 percent are yet to have household tap connections for water. 
  • JJM envisages a structural change in the provision of drinking water supply services. The service provision should change to ‘utility based approach’ centered on ‘service delivery’
  • The government had also integrated different ministries and departments dealing with water into one ministry — the Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Work to be taken up under JJM: 

  • In-village water supply (PWS) infrastructure for tap water connection to every household
  • Reliable drinking water source development/ augmentation of existing sources
  • Transfer of water (multi-village scheme; where quantity & quality issues are there in the local water sources)
  • Technological intervention for treatment to make water potable (where water quality is an issue, but quantity is sufficient)
  • Retrofitting of completed and ongoing piped water supply schemes to provide FHTC and raise the service level
  • Grey water management
  • Capacity building of various stakeholders and support activities to facilitate the implementation

73rd Amendment of Constitution of India: Gram Panchayats or its sub-committees will play a crucial role in planning, designing, execution, operations and maintenance of the in-village infrastructure under the Jal Jeevan Mission – Every village is to prepare a village action plan (VAP) which will be essentially having three components namely; 

  1. Water source & its maintenance
  2. Water supply and 
  3. Grey water management.

The Issue:

In 1951, per-capita water availability in India was just over 5,000 cu m per year. In 2011, it was 1,545 cu m. The figure has almost certainly come down since. Should it drop below 1,000 cu m per year, India will formally become a water-scarce country for the first time in its 5,000-year history. If water availability is a problem, inequality in access is even more so.

India has 180 million rural households. About 33 million have access to piped water; a little over 145 million don’t. This mission means 4.5 times more houses have to be linked to piped water in the coming five years than has been done in the past 72 years-

  • Augmenting water availability will be the sum of several efforts: 
  • Conservation and revival
  • Recycle and reuse of water (including grey water)
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Judicious use of water for farming (an expansion of ‘per drop, more crop’)
  • Efficient use of water in industry
  • In situ treatment of waste rather than transporting it long distances using copious quantities of water
  • Labelling products, or pushing industry to benchmark optimal use of water

The Way Forward

  • Need to relook at water-guzzling sugarcane —with a value chain that sucks is terrible in terms of subsidies at various stages 
  • Need to reimagine the public health engineering department (PHED) as not just a technical body but also as a public utility that oversees water entitlements as well as pricing of such entitlements is a goal. Digital sensors could facilitate remote monitoring of household water supply and quality, and eliminate tedious meter readings.
  • This devolution can be incentivised by GoI, linked to milestones state governments and gram panchayats must reach, and hand-held by NGOs. For instance, JJM could tie up with the skill development ministry to train village women to measure turbidity and quality.
  • On the lines of the Swachh Bharat Mission, extensive information, education and communication will be needed to create a jan andolan for water management. The ongoing Jal Shakti Abhiyan will help in creating awareness about the importance of integrating source sustainability and water reuse with the provision of household water supply. 


SDG-6: Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 

Water-stressed districts: Districts with critical or over-exploited groundwater levels as per the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) 2017. For states without critical and over-exploited groundwater levels, districts with the least availability of groundwater in comparison to the rest of the districts in the state have been selected.

Water stress and water scarcity

  • Water stress is the difficulty of obtaining sources of fresh water for use during a period of time and may result in further depletion and deterioration of available water resources.
  • Water scarcity involves water stress, water shortage or deficits, and water crisis.
  • Water scarcity can be due to physical water scarcity and economic water scarcity. Physical water scarcity refers to a situation where natural water resources are unable to meet a region’s demand and economic water scarcity is a result of poor water management resources.
  • The latter is found more often to be the cause of countries or regions experiencing water scarcity, as most countries or regions lack the means to provide water in an accessible manner.

Connecting the dots:

  1. Enlightened water policy needs infrastructure. But more than that, it requires institutions with local and village ownership. Analyse.
  2. How severe is the problem of groundwater contamination in India? What are its most causative factors?

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