Drinking water issues in Rural India:
Need for stakeholders’ participation in Water resources management
Water is a very essential livelihood for mankind. The United Nations suggest that each person needs 20-50 litres of water a day to ensure basic needs of drinking, cooking and cleaning. It was also endorsed by the Indian National Water Policy 2002, with the provision that adequate safe drinking water facilities should be provided to the entire population both in urban and in rural areas. About 1.42 million rural habitations in India are affected by chemical contamination. The provision of clean drinking water has been given priority in the Constitution of India, in Article 47 conferring the duty of providing clean drinking water and improving public health standards to the State. Excessive dependence of ground water results in depletion of ground water, water contamination and water borne diseases. Thus, access to safe and reliable water supply is one of the serious concerns in rural water supply programme. Though government has taken certain serious steps in addressing the drinking water issues in rural areas, still there is a huge gap between demand and supply. The Draft National Water Policy 2012 also states that Water quality and quantity are interlinked and need to be managed in an integrated manner and with Stakeholder participation. Water Resources Management aims at optimizing the available natural water flows, including surface water and groundwater, to satisfy competing needs. The World Bank also emphasizes managing water resources, strengthening institutions, identifying and implementing measures of improving water governance and increasing the efficiency of water use. Therefore stakeholders’ participation is viewed important in managing water resources at different levels and range. This paper attempts to reflect on drinking water issues in rural India, and highlights the significance of Integrated Water Resource Management as the significant part of Millennium Development Goals; and Stakeholders’ participation in water resources management.