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Gist of Kurukshetra :- October 2020

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  • Published
    26th Nov, 2020


  • In the last few years, India is going through hard times where water scarcity and poor sanitation Facilities are bigger challenge than the economic development.
  • In this issue focus is on factors associated with ensuring water and sanitation coverage to the rural population. The aim is to further agenda of Swachh Bharat Mission as envisaged by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at multiple national and international fora.
  • The significance of cleaning river Ganga which provides water, food, economic sustenance to 43 % population is immense. To handle the issue of growing urbanization, industrialization and excess use of water government has initiatedNamamiGange Programme implemented by National mission for clean Ganga.
  • Significance of Swachh Bharat Mission is underlined by UNICEF report which estimated Rs. 50,000 per year saving to every family in ODF village. Through participation of Panchayati Raj Institutions and other local bodies, Swachh Bharat Mission has built more than 10 crore individual household latrines during 2014-2019.

Water Conservation: Initiatives and Future Strategies

  • Mismanagement of waste water which also contaminates ground water, lacking liquid waste management, poor sanitation conditions and poor hygiene habits have contributed to a major portion of population suffering from water borne diseases.
  • Unsafe water, sanitation, and hand-washing are responsible for6% of disease burden through diarrheal and other infections.
  • As per the Indian Constitution, Water and Sanitation are state subjects under List 2 of the Seventh Schedule. The central govt only plays an advisory role in this area. Along with Centre, many states have come up with innovative measures to encourage water conservation and sanitation practices in their respective jurisdictions.


  • Jal Jeevan Mission: On 15th Aug 2019, PM Narendra Modi launched JJM with vision - "Every rural household has drinking water supplyin adequate quantity of prescribed quality onregular and long- term basis at affordable service delivery charges leading to improvement in    livingstandards of rural communities “Waste water management, water conservation and rain water harvesting are also the mandatory components of this mission. Community approach through IEC (Information, Education and Communication) is a key component. Since Inception, the percentage of rural household having access to safe drinking water increased from 18% to 28.41%.
  • Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Ministry of Jal Shakti launched Jal Shakti Abhiyan in 256 water stressed districts across the country. Under this Abhiyan, more than 75 lakh traditional and other water bodies and tanks were renovated and around one crore conservation and rainwater harvesting structures were created.
  • Atal BhujalYojana (ABHY): launched in budget 2020 to address issues with ground water which include widespread decline in water tables, reduced availability of water in the wells and contamination of heavy metals and fluoride. ABHY envisages sustainable ground water management mainly through convergence among various on-going schemes through active involvement of local communities and stakeholders.
  • Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) by NITI Aayog: The CWMI as a yearly exercise to assess and improve the performance of States/ Union territories in efficient management of water resources. CWMI comprises of 9 broad sectors with 28 different key performance indicators covering various aspects of ground water, restoration of water bodies, irrigation, farm practices, drinking water, policy and governance. Index has been quite successful in sensitizing the states about the impending water scarcity in the Nation.
  • Initiatives by state governments: JalyuktShivar In Maharashtra, MukhyaMantri Jal SwavalambanAbhiyanin Rajasthan,NeeruChettuin Andhra Pradesh, Mission Kakatiyain Telangana, SujalamSufalamin Gujarat, Integrated Water Resource Management and Artificial Recharge Structures Scheme in Karnataka, PaniBachao, Paisa Kamao (PBPK) in

Way forward:

  1. Making Water as Part of Economic Development: Increase the budget allocation to water and sanitation sector, along with agriculture, manufacturing and services sector, it should be a priority sector for investment.
  2. Introduction of Water Markets at Large Scale: Watertrading allows water users to buy and sell water in response to their individual needs. The most successful water markets are found in Murray Darling Basin of Australia where Water trading has become avital business tool and source of additional income for many irrigators.
  3. Pollution Tax as the Remedy to Decrease Pollution in Water Bodies: The pollution tax should be regarded as the part of Extended Prouder Responsibility (EPR). Pollution taxes can lead to significant investment in pollution abatement and technological innovation, thereby lowering the overall cost to society of meeting environmental targets.
  4. New strategies to support Public-Private Partnership in Water Sector: Governments may consider providing risk mitigation to long-term investment projects. In the United States, state revolving funds provide examples of a sustainable infrastructure financing model. The public-private approach to Themes Tideway Tunnel (TTT) can also serve as the example for the operating PPP in high risk and long gestation period water sector projects.

NamamiGange programme, implemented by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is an integrated mission for conservation of Ganga and its tributaries. A comprehensive Ganga River Basin Management Plan (GRBMP) was developed by a consortium of seven IITs. The vision is to restore the wholesomeness of the River by ensuring Aviraland NirmalDhara, and maintaining its geo-hydrological and ecological integrity.

Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) approach is followed with multi-sectoral and multi-agency interventions such as (I) pollution abatement (Nirmal Ganga), (II) improving ecology and flow (Aviral Ganga), (III) strengthen people river connect (Jan Ganga) and (IV) facilitate diversified research, scientific mapping, studies and evidence-based policy formulation (Gyan Ganga).

Pollution Abatement (Nirmal Ganga)

Pollution abatement measures comprehensively tackle all sources of pollution such as municipal sewage, industrial effluents, municipal solid waste, rural sanitation, non-point sources of pollution such as agricultural runoff, open defecation, un-burnt dead bodies etc.

  1. Sewerage Infrastructure: Under NamamiGange, a total of 151 sewerage infrastructure projects have been sanctioned. Wastewater is a valuable resource from which energy, water, organics, phosphates, nitrogen, and other resources can be extracted.
  2. Faecal Sludge Management: Faecal sludge and Septage treatment is good option in developing a mix of solutions with centralized and decentralized STPs. NMCG has adopted co-treatment in its all under construction STPs.
  3. Industrial pollution: To control the industrial pollution in Ganga, all the Grossly Polluting Industries (GPls) were identified and annual Inspection undertaken by independent expert institutions such as IITs, NEERI, NITs leading to Improved compliance by industries.
  4. Solid Waste Management: Regular cleaning of river banks, installing screens/filter to trap solid waste, ban on single-use plastics and periodical third-party inspections. Trash skimmers have been installed at important places for surface cleaning.
  5. Rural Sanitation: NMCG facilitated construction of around 11 lakh household toilets in 446S identified Ganga bank villages. They were declared open defecation free (ODF) early and solid, liquid waste management in Ganga Grams is priority in SBM Grameen.
  6. Water Quality: For the first time in India, Real Time Water Quality Monitoring has been introduced with 36 stations set up along Ganga with 40 more in pipeline. Community monitoring is also promoted.

Ecology and Flow (Aviral Ganga)

  1. Ecological Flow: Ecological flow was notified for River Ganga in Oct 2018. This has become a major component of river rejuvenation
  2. Wetland Conservation: Wetlands are important for Nirmalta, Aviralta and also for economy, ecotourism, ground water recharge and supporting biodiversity. Toolkits for urban wetlands protection are also being developed with special attention to flood plain wetlands.
  3. Afforestation: Natural, urban and agricultural riverscapes are covered in this plan.
  4. Biodiversity Conservation - Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to map biodiversity hotspot for the entire length of Ganga and scientific improvement of habitat, species.
  5. Sustainable Agriculture:NMCG promotes this through organic farming, eco agriculture and medicinal plantation. Organic farming corridor along Ganga has been proposed.
  6. Small River Rejuvenation: A GIS based district wise inventory of small rivers is being created along with district level interventions with convergence with MGNREGA.

People River Connect (Jan Ganga)

NamamiGange mission accords prime importance to People River Connect and is taking several steps for making it a people's movement.

  1. Ghat and Crematoria: 138 Ghats and 38 Crematoria have already been constructed with River Front development at Patna and Haridwar, making them important public space.
  2. Jan Bhagidari: Community and stakeholder groups have been developed such as Ganga VicharManch, Ganga Praharis, NYK Ganga Doots, Ganga Mitras, and Ganga Task Force with ex-serviceman, NCC, NSS etc.
  3. Ganga AmantranAbhiyan: This was largest social outreach program through adventure sports connecting people from Devprayag to Ganga Sagar last year through 35-daylong rafting expedition.
  4. NMCG regularly conducts several activities to connect youth and others such as 'Great Ganga Run'.
  5. Ganga Quest: During lockdown, an innovative online national quiz on Ganga to connect school/college students drew overwhelming response with 11.5 lakh participants.
  6. Clean Ganga Fund is another innovative step to create an avenue for people and corporates to donate and take up specific projects for this national cause.

Research, Policy and Knowledge Management (Gyan Ganga)

  1. LIDAR Mapping: Generation of high-resolution GIS ready database for 10 kms on both sides of Ganga using LIDAR(Light Detection and Ranging) which will for the first time provide data on drainage, flood plains etc.
  2. Microbial Diversity Mapping: studying Water Quality and Sediment Analysis to understand the Special Property of Ganga River.
  3. Cultural mapping: Of entire length of Ganga for natural, built and intangible heritage, taken up through INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage).
  4. Climate Scenario Mapping: Understanding and scientifically estimate impact of climate change on water resources in the Indo-Gangetic Plain
  5. Spring Rejuvenation: with IIT Roorkee and Survey of India to assess the impact of land use-land cover change or impact of natural or anthropogenic precipitation variability and mapping of sources of springs for taking up their rejuvenation.
  6. A project in collaboration with CGWB and National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) for aquifer mapping has been started with focus on paleo-channels in parts of Ganga-Yamuna doab.
  7. New Paradigm of Planning for River Cities: Innovative urban river management plan (URMP) framework is being developed with a template for Kanpur.
  8. NamamiGange: It is collaborating with different international organizations like India-EU water partnership and German collaboration for the technology and knowledge transfer.
  9. Arth Ganga: Linking economic development of Ganga Basin with ecological improvement and Ganga Rejuvenation.

In 2019 India achieved a historical milestone when it declared the country as open defecation free (ODF). SwachhBharal Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) Phase II now seeks to both build upon the achievements and sustain them, by investing in ODF-sustainability activities such as improved hygiene practices, solid and liquid waste management, and operation and maintenance of infrastructures.

The objectives of SBM(G) II are critical elements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on sanitation; target of SDG Goal 6 is "by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.

SBM(G) Phase I (2014-2019): Success Factors

  1. Political Leadership: Close monitoring from the top level on a regular basis
  2. Public Finance: The Centre and state governments have spent estimated US$ 24 billions on SBM(G).
  3. Partnerships: Range of strategic partnerships were mobilised, amongst but not limited to the government ministries, development partners, media and influencers at all level.
  4. Peoples Participation and Community Mobilization: Community members wore mobilized as motivators, NigraniSamitis (vigilante/village committees), local champions, etc. making SBM(G) a truly people's movement
  5. Strong Capacity Development Support from Partners: Development partners such as UNICEF, World Dank, Tuta Trusts and others supported the capacity development of SBM(G) team, immensely contributing towards desired focus on behaviour change communication.
  6. Critical Role of Media: Mobilizing stakeholders ranging from faith lenders, political cadres, bureaucrats and communities at large was made possible through active engagement of media.

SBM (G)-II scope and focus:

A budget of Rs 140,881 crores has been approved for the five years (2019-20 to 2024-25) programme period. Two key components of the programme are highlighted below.

  1. Sustaining the ODF: SBM(G)II intends to ensure that all remaining households get access to toilets, existing toilets are retrofitted to meet safety/technical standards,
  2. Sustainable Solid and Liquid Waste Management: The solid and liquid waste management component focuses on: a) bio-organic waste management, b) plastic waste management, c) liquid waste management, and d) faecal sludge management (FSM). For the FSM, the SBM(G) II guidelines suggest districts to prepare District FSM Plan.
  3. Role of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRls): The provision for the use of 15th Finance Commission grants to/ by local bodies to fund SBM(G)-II initiatives through convergence at the local level. SBM (G) II recommends establishment of a District SBM Committee, under the Chair of the District Panchayat (ZilaParishad) with the Co-chair of District Collector/Magistrate.
  4. IEC and Role of Media: Five percent of budget (Rs.7,040 crores) is earmarked for range of social and behavioral change communication strategies and related capacity development work.

Framework for Empowering the PRI’s

  1. Making sanitation a part of the GPDP framework: As envisaged in the SBG(G}II guidelines and the Constitution of India, GPs are required to prepare inclusive Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs) so that they are implemented with priority and ODF is sustained. Institutional capacity of the states needs to be strengthened.
  2. Engagement of Block and District Panchayats: The District Panchayats and Block Panchayats should have critical role in strengthening and supporting Gram Panchayats within their jurisdiction, in planning and implementation of the sanitation plan. In addition, the PRls can be the main vehicle to ensure sustained engagement of Safaikarmis, Swachhagrahis and NigraniSamitis.
  3. Accountability framework for PRI’s: District Panchayats to Lead the district level planning process,Block Panchayats (PS) to Support GPs in implementation of their GPDP linked sanitation plan and ensure robust monitoring of the outcomes at the Block level and Gram Panchayats to Ensure preparation of inclusive GPDPs and implement the SBM(G)II programme as part of the GPDPs.
  4. Engagement of Media as a Tool for Downward Accountability: Role of media is crucial, it could be threefold: i) sharing information on various aspects of SBM(G} II and entitlements of communities, ii) supporting PRls by sharing emerging best practices from across the country for replication with or without adaptions, and iii) identification of gaps and delays inprogramme implementation and sharing the same with wider public so that the PRls are held accountable to their citizens.

Way Forward

  • Accountability framework for PRls:PRls need a clearly defined institutional platform to be able to deliver on their mandates
  • Critical role of Media: Media can be the agency of the marginalized communities, and can promote transparency by communicating on the citizen's entitlements, avenues and good practices.
  • Partnerships and Capacity Building of PRls and Communities: Development partners, civil society, private sector and academic institutions need to be considered and engaged at all levels.
  • According to NITI Aayog India,2018 around sixty crore Indians "face high to extreme water stress and about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water."
  • The National Sample Survey Office's (NSSO) 76th round, July-December 2018, informs that one in every five (21.4 percent) households in India has piped drinking water connections.
  • In urban India, 40.9 percent households receive piped water while in Rural India, just 11.3 percent households receive potable water directly at homes.

Water and Government Initiatives

  • The key goal of the newly created Ministry of Jal shaktiis to assure "availability of potable water for all".Accordingly, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi announced Jal Jeevan Mission-HarGhar Jal from Delhi's Red Fort on 15th August 2019. The scheme promises piped water in every rural household by 2024.

Salient or Key Features of the Mission

  • Emphasis is on 'service delivery' rather creating Infrastructure.
  • SHGs/community-based organizations/NGOs involved as implementation support agencies making JJM truly a people’s movement.
  • Safe water to be ensured in water quality affected areas on priority.
  • Create skilled labour force to ensure long term maintenance of water supply systems.
  • Building sense of ownership among the community through specific contribution of capital cost in cash, kind or labour, etc...
  • Performance incentive of 10% to the village infrastructure based on successful demonstration of operation & maintenance.
  • Monitoring water quality with 3 tier testing laboratory infrastructures.
  • Creating Local trained workers especially women to test water supply.
  • Public Finance Management System is mandatory to be used for all financial transactions to ensure transparency as well as tracking of funds.
  • Ministry of Jal Shakti has set up Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) for monitoring of physical and financial progress.
  • Rashtriya Jal JeevanKosh (RJJK) has been set up to mobilise and accept contributions / donations.

The SwachhSharat Mission (SBM) was launched as a mass movement to bring about behavioral changes for crores of people in India and instill healthy sanitation practices in their daily lives. The socio-economic impact of SBM has been phenomenal both in terms of improving sanitation in hinterland but also improvement in health parameters especially for women and children.


  • In the post-independence phase, health and sanitation aspects were part of the five-year plans. In 1954, the rural sanitation programme in India was introduced as a part of the First Five Year Plan.
  • In 1986 a programme - Central Rural Sanitation Programme (CRSP) which solely focused on sanitation was introduced.
  • In 1999, Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) with a vision to eradicate open defecation by 2017 was launched.
  • In 2006, TSC was merged with Indira AwasYojana (lAY) and the convergence allowed the use of funds for the construction of sanitary toilets in lAY houses.
  • In 2012, the Centre launched Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) in convergence with MGNREGA, with an aim to provide 100 percent access to toilets in rural households by 2022.
  • In 2014, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi led government revamped the NBA into Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and introduced two sub-missions - Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).
  • The preparation of District Swachhta Plan (DSP) was the key aspect of SBM which outlined the scope of working to be taken up in a specific district for making it ODF in a time bound manner through ensuring behavior change initiatives. Swachh Bharat AbhiyanGraminwas implemented with the aim of making rural areas in India open defecation free.

The main objectives of SBM(G) are:

  • Bring about an improvement in the general quality of life in the rural areas, by promoting cleanliness, hygiene and eliminating open defecation.
  • Accelerate sanitation coverage in rural areas
  • Motivate communities and Panchayati Raj Institutions to adopt sustainable sanitation practices and facilities through awareness creation and health education.
  • Encourage cost effective technologies for ecologically safe and sustainable sanitation
  • Develop community managed sanitation systems focusing on scientific solid and liquid waste management systems for overall cleanliness in the rural areas
  • Create significant positive impact on gender and promote social inclusion by improving sanitation especially in marginalized communities

Various Initiatives taken up as part of SBM includeNamamiGangeto make villages near Ganga ODF,SwachhSwasthSarvatrato strengthen community health centres, RashtriyaSwachhata Kendra to monitor the progress of SBM programme, Swachhata at Petrol Pumps andSwachh Bharat App & Web Portal to monitor coordination between various departments and ministries.

Impact Assessment of SBM

The UNICEF studied the Financial and Economic Impact of the Swachh Bharat Mission in India in November 2018. Key Findings:

  • On an average, households in ODF villages accrued cumulative benefits of Rs.50,000 per year.
  • The benefit summarizes reduced medical cost, low disease burden, save labour time and increase in property value from having a latrine.

A study titled - Access to toilets and the safety, convenience and self-respect of women in rural India was conducted in collaboration between UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Sambodhi Research and Communications Private Limited with assistance from Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti. Key findings:

  • 40% of households having toilet under SBM reports improvement in women safety and reduction in harms by animals while defecating.
  • Majority of women feel proud having ownership of toilet.
  • 93% of women reported no longer open defecating practices and absence of embarrassment over not having private toilet.

SBM (G)-phase II also referred ODF Plus

The SBM-G Phase II is aimed at generating employment and providing impetus to the rural economy through construction of household toilets and community toilets, as well as infrastructure for SLWM such as compost pits, soak pits, waste stabilization ponds, material recovery facilities etc.

An adequate quantity of good quality water is essential for health as is access to sanitation facilities with appropriate disposal of sewage. Coupled with good hygiene practices, these two elements play a crucial role in reducing morbidity and mortality.

  • The World Bank estimates that 21 percent of communicable ailments are water-borne.
  • Diarrhea is among the biggest killers of children under the age of 5, in addition to neonatal complications, pneumonia and sepsis.
  • Neglected tropical diseases, polio and malaria also have a strong association with poor water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • Inadequate water and sanitation-related facilities in health care institutions is severely detrimental for mothers and newborns as it leads to the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Poor mechanisms for managing menstrual hygiene management in educational institutions not only pose serious health concerns for girls but also impact their attendance and academic performance

Expanding Sanitation Coverage

India has made tremendous strides in the area of sanitation over the last few years. This transformation has been made possible through a combination of factors:

  • Strong political will has ensured personal commitment towards ensuring the success of Mission.
  • Strong emphasis on behavior change. SBM has followed a demand driven approach as opposed to being supply-driven along with measuring success in terms of “Open Defecation Free" (ODF) villages and districts, instead of mere toilet construction.
  • Focus on decentralized monitoring through the extensive use of modern technology.
  • All components of the Mission - construction, payment of incentives, ODF declaration, verification, and even active personnel in every village are reported on a realtime basis by states, districts, Gram Panchayats and villages.
  • Every toilet constructed under the Mission was mandatorily geo-tagged so as to ensure that the process is completely transparent.

Way Forward 

  • Behaviour change campaigns need to be implemented on a regular basis.
  • Incentives and benefits need to be designed for promoting the use of Infrastructure.
  • Targeted behavior change communication campaigns can also be designed specifically for panchayats and cities where reversals in ODF status are observed.
  • Involving panchayats and local communities by training them on water quality contamination and management is also critical.
  • Technologies that have been successfully piloted in different parts of India or in other country need to be scaled-up, following the necessary adaptation.
  • The focus must shift towards ensuring safe containment, transportation and disposal of faecal sludge and septage from toilets.
  • Lastly but perhaps most crucially, all efforts should be made to ensure the safety and dignity of sanitation workers through the provision of protective gear and mechanized equipment.

As defined by WHO -'Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of any disease or infirmity'.

Women's Health refers to the branch of medicine that focuses on the treatment/diagnosis of diseases or conditions that affect a woman's physical and emotional well-being.

Health is one of the fundamental human rights. As per Article 47 of the India's Constitution - "The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavor to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health"

National Health Policy (NHP; launched in 1983) was revamped in 2017 with an aim to inform, clarify, strengthen and prioritise the Government's role in shaping the health systems holistically covering all its dimensions: health related investments, organisation of the healthcare services, disease prevention and promotion of good health through appropriate inter-sectoral coordination, use of updated technologies, human resource development, strengthening healthcare systems and health assurance. Further, NHP has identified priority areas for improving health of the people through coordinated action which include:

  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
  • Balanced, healthy diet and regular exercise
  • Addressing tobacco, alcohol and substance abuse
  • NirbhayaNari -action against gender violence
  • Reducing indoor and outdoor air pollution

Govt initiatives to support health and nutrition in rural India specially for women-

  • LaQshya programme: To reduce maternal mortality and still birth
  • Universal sanitation campaigning to reach ODF under SBMG and ODF++
  • National Rural Drinking water programme which aims to provide safe drinking water to rural population
  • Jal Jeevan Mission aims to connect every rural household with tapped water connection by 2022.
  • Menstrual Hygiene Scheme (MHS) for promoting menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls (aged between 10-19 years) in rural areas with the aim to increase their awareness regarding menstrual hygiene; improve access and increase the use of high-quality sanitary napkins; and to ensure their safe as well as environment friendly disposal.
  • ASHA workers and Anganwadicentresare given responsibility to ensure healthy menstrual hygiene practices and discuss other relevant sexual and reproductive health issues
  • SABLA program stresses on awareness regarding health and hygiene among women.
  • The key components of National Health Mission (NHM) include - AnaemiaMukt Bharat; organization of Village Health camp; Sanitation & Nutrition days (for providing maternal & child health services and awareness generation regarding maternal & child care); Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) supplementation; calcium supplementation and promotion of iodized salt consumption.
  • Under National Iron Plus Initiative (NIPI) programme, for control of Iron deficiency anaemiaacross life stages, iron and folic acid supplements are being given.
  • Intensified National Iron Plus Initiative (I-NIPI) is aimed at reducing the prevalence of anaemiaby 3 percentage point per annum.
  • Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) is being implemented for reducing maternal and neonatal mortality by promoting institutional delivery among pregnant women belonging to under-privileged families.
  • The quality of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) has significant impact on improving the health outcome and ameliorating the economic condition of rural masses. Especially, the present worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has strongly demonstrated the critical role of sanitation, hygiene and access to clean water in protecting human health by preventing and containing diseases.
  • At the central level, the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation under the Ministry of Jal Shakti is the nodal agency responsible for policy planning, funding and coordination of programs for safe drinking water and sanitation in rural areas.
  • Presently, it has been assigned the responsibility of two key schemes of the Government: (i) Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G), and (ii) the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM).

Status of Safe Drinking Water

  • Though the rural-urban inequality in the access to safe drinking water has narrowed down tremendously from 26% in 1991 to nearly9% in 2011, yet still it is quite high.

Status of Rural Sanitation

  • As per the baseline survey conducted by Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation, in October 2014, about 55 crore people resorted to open defecating in rural areas, meaning thereby that nearly 61 percent rural population lacked basic sanitation facilities.

Government Expenditure on Rural Drinking Water and Sanitation

  • Total expenditure of government on rural drinking water and sanitation which was to the tune of 10,565 crores in 2010-11, went up to Rs. 21,494 crore in 2020-21, reflecting a compound annual growth rate of 6.67 percent.

Economic and Health Effects

  • Due to the lack of proper sanitation in the country, more than 30 million people suffer from waterborne diseases leading to a huge loss of around 73 million working days every year. The resulting economic cost is estimated over 6 percent of GDP each year, as per World Bank estimates. The quality of life of rural people can be substantially improved by improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Government Initiatives

  • Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) achieved a historic milestone when all the villages and Gram Panchayats of the country, after constructing over 100 million toilets in rural India, declared themselves open-defecation free on 2nd October 2019, the day coinciding with 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • To ensure that the open defecation free behaviour is sustained, no one is left behind and waste management facilities are accessible in all villages; Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen)-Phase II commenced with effect from 19th February, 2020. Phase-II of SBM-G is just a shift from ODF to ODF Plus.

Challenges and Future Initiatives

  • The per capita annual water availability is estimated to decline further to 1,486 cubic meters by 2021. If the current trends in the demand and supply of water continue, then soon India is likely to become a water-scarce country. This will have serious implications for the sustainability of agriculture, food security, livelihoods, rural sanitation and sustainable growth.
  • For making India a water secure nation, especially the rural regions of the country, a lot of challenges are needed to be addressed from both, the demand as well as the supply side of water. From the demand side, population pressures, changing cropping pattern, high rate of urbanization, rapid industrialization and issues relating to climate change are needed to be urgently addressed. On the supply side, proper conservation, storage and distribution of water is needed to be prioritized. Increased public investment for the creation of potable water infrastructure is also required.
  • Over exploitation and contamination of ground water is a concern. In this context, necessary technology interventions are needed for the treatment and removal of contaminants and promote the re-use of water. Proper water resource management, revival of aquifers and traditional rainwater harvesting structures with the active participation of local communities and NGOs also need to be promoted.
  • Last but not least, public awareness regarding the rational use of water and change in the attitude of people towards sanitation need to be promoted through information, education and communication.
  • Decentralisation, or decentralising governance, as referred by UNDP (United Nation Development Programme, 1997) is the restructuring or reorganization of authority so that there is a system of co-responsibility between institutions of governance at the central, regional and local levels according to the principle of subsidiary.
  • There were only 39 countries in 1974, which had electoral democratic governance, the number increased to 121 in 2002 (World Bank, 2004).
  • There are three major forms of decentralization, namely ‘Deconcentration', 'Delegation' and 'Devolution'.
  • Deconcentration Is the weak form of decentralization and refers to mere shifting of responsibilities from central government officials in the capital city to those working in regions.
  • Delegation refers to transferring responsibility for decision-making and administration of public functions to semiautonomous organization's not wholly controlled by the central government, but ultimately accountable to it.
  • Devolution is the strongest from of decentralization, where the central government transfer functions, authority for decision-making, finance, and management to quasi-autonomous units of local government with corporate status.
  • The idealized aim is to enable people to present, share, analyse and augment their knowledge as the start of a process.

Decentralised Governance in India: A Historical Perspective

  • Balwant Rai Mehta Committee in 1957 recommended a three-tier Panchayat system at district, block and Village levels.
  • The second plan document acknowledged the necessity of development of democratic institutions and emphasized upon 'comprehensive village planning' for efficient distribution of state benefit to weaker sections of society.
  • Ashok Mehta Committee in 1978 recommended considering district as a first point of decentralization.
  • M Singhvi Committee, recommended involvement of Panchayati Raj institutions in basic planning and implementation of development projects and consider Panchayati Raj Institutions as Institution of Self Governance to facilitate the participation of the people in the process of planning and development.
  • The 73rd Constitutional Amendment, in 1992, have formalized such an institution by giving PRI the constitutional provision to constitute three-tier panchayat system in each state as well as emerge as an institute of self-governance.

Panchayati Raj Institution in India

  • Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) is a three-tiered structure in India. PRlsinclude Gram Panchayats (village level), Mandal Parishador Block Samitior Panchayat Samiti(Block level), and ZilaParishad(district level).

PRI and implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act

  • The Act mandates that the selection and prioritization of works to be taken up in a financial year has to be done by Gram Sabha.
  • The Act also prescribes that works be allotted in a way that at least 50 percent of the total works (in terms of costs) be undertaken by the Gram Panchayats.
  • The Act directs the District Programme Coordinator at district level to prepare a Labour Budget every year in the month of December for next financial year.
  • MGNREGA has been integrated with Pradhan MantriKrishiSinchayeeYojana (PMKSY), Integrated Watershed Management Programme, Command Area and Water Management schemes for better outcomes in water conservation and water harvesting works.

Livelihood Promotion Scheme and PRI

  • Swarnajayanti Gram SwarozgarYojana (SGSY) was designed to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities through Micro-Finance and Micro-Enterprises for population Below Poverty Line.
  • In NRLM, the role of PRls could be to facilitate/ support in social mobilisation, institution building Participatory Identification of Poor (PIP) and its endorsement in Gram Sabha, allocating resources to the priority demands of the SHGs and their federations in the annual plans/activities of the PRls and coordinating with different departments and agencies on behalf of the SHG network.

Current Development Challenge and PRI

  • National Skill Development corporation (NSDC) adopted a Public Private Partnership (PPP) approach to provide skills to 69% youth population aged 18-34 years in rural areas.
  • Pradhan MantriKaushalVikasYojana (PMKVY) is the flagship scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) Implemented by NSDC, with objective of enabling Indian youth to take up industry-relevant skill training that will help them in securing a better livelihood through Skill Certification Scheme.
  • DeenDayalUpadhyayGraminKaushalYojana (DDUGKY) launched in the year 2014 also focused on placement-led skill training initiative of the Ministry of Rural Development. The scheme aims at transforming poor rural Indian youth ages of 15 and 35 years from poor families into skilled productive employees to empower industry with the right manpower for success and growth.


  • Participatory planning is often criticized for over emphasis on process of planning and it is also questioned from the standpoint of unequal empowerment.
  • Women continue to face masculine model of politics, a dual burden of domestic chores and professional obligations, and lack of confidence and self-esteem.
  • In India, there are Instances of women holding formal rather than effective power due to reasons like opposition from the families, interference by husbands, discrimination in meetings, lack of community support, lack of education and dependence on men.

Way Ahead

  • Despite such shortcomings, participation, as a political concept as well as a process, has opened up space for new relationship between governments and citizens. The concept carries dynamic implications in the wake of recent policies of decentralization, where people are not only expected to voice their opinions during elections, but also enjoy the power to participate in the decision-making processes. Increase in literacy level, access to technology and process of digitalization are helping public participation in government policy planning.

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