Water and Sanitation

Water and Sanitation

The key findings of the CAG's Report No.15 of 2018 - Performance Audit of National Rural Drinking Water Programme (published on 7th August, 2018) in the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation are as follows (please click here to access):

• The National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) was launched with the objective of providing adequate safe water for drinking, cooking and other domestic needs to every rural person on a sustainable basis. The 12th Plan aimed at providing all rural habitations, schools and anganwadis with safe drinking water by December, 2017. It also envisaged that at least 50 percent of the rural population will be provided piped water supply at 55 litre per capita per day (lpcd) within the household premises or at a distance of not more than 100 meters from their households.

• The NRDWP also aimed to provide household connection to 35 percent of rural households. The NRDWP is being implemented in the states through its six components and through other focused schemes. During the 12th FYP period (2012-17), a total of Rs. 89,956 crore (Central share of Rs. 43,691 crore and state share of Rs. 46,265 crore) was provided for the Programme of which  Rs. 81,168 crore was spent during this period.

• The NRDWP failed to achieve the targets that were set for achievement by 2017 viz. (i) all rural habitations, Government schools and anganwadis to have access to safe drinking water; (ii) 50 per cent of rural population to be provided potable drinking water (55 lpcd) by piped water supply; and (iii) 35 per cent of rural households to be provided household connections.

• As of December 2017, only 44 percent of rural habitations and 85 percent of Government schools and anganwadis could be provided access to safe drinking water, only 18 percent of rural population were provided potable drinking water by piped water supply and only 17 percent of rural households were provided household connections. The overall coverage of rural habitations increased only by eight percent at 40 lpcd and 5.5 percent at 55 litre per capita per day (lpcd) after incurring expenditure of Rs. 81,168 crore during the period 2012-17.

• The NRDWP was an important element in Government of India’s commitment to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Number 6 which relates to ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.  The Ministry had informed (September 2017) that while its objective was to provide drinking water to every Indian household, it would require approximately Rs. 23,000 crore annually till 2030 (at present cost) to achieve this goal and given the present level of outlays, the SDG cannot be realized solely through NRDWP efforts.

Planning and Delivery Mechanism: The planning and delivery framework established at the Centre and states deviated from the NRDWP guidelines. Twenty one states did not frame Water Security Plans and deficiencies were found in preparation and scrutiny of Annual Action Plans such as lack of stakeholder and community participation, non-inclusion of minimum service level of water in schemes and absence of approval of State Level Scheme Sanctioning Committee for schemes included in the plans. The apex level National Drinking Water and Sanitation Council set up to co-ordinate and ensure convergence remained largely dormant. The agencies vital for planning and execution of the Programme such as State Water and Sanitation Mission, State Technical Agency, Source Finding Committee and Block Resource Centres were either not set up or were not performing their assigned functions. These constraints both in terms of planning and delivery ultimately affected achievement of Programme goals and targets.

Fund Management: The NRDWP is implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with cost being shared between the Central and State Governments. The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation’s expectations that the states would be able to compensate for reduced Central allocation by increasing their own financial commitment to the scheme taking into account the increased devolution based on the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission was belied. Thus, the overall availability of funds for the Programme declined during the period 2013-14 to 2016-17. However, even the reduced allocations of funds remained unutilised. There were  delays of over 15 months in release of Central share to nodal/ implementing agencies. There was also diversion of funds towards inadmissible items of expenditure and blocking of funds amounting to Rs. 662.61 crore with State Water and Sanitation Missions and work executing agencies.

Programme Implementation: The NRDWP failed to achieve the targets that were to be achieved by end of 2017 as brought out above. This was attributable partly to deficiencies in implementation such as incomplete, abandoned and non-operational works, unproductive expenditure on equipment, non-functional sustainability structures and gaps in contract management that had a total financial implication of Rs. 2,212.44 crore.

• Only five percent of quality affected habitations had been provided with Community Water Purification Plants and there was slow progress in setting up such plants out of funds provided by the NITI Aayog. Sustainability plans were either not prepared/ implemented or not included in the Annual Action Plans. There was inadequate focus on surface water based schemes and a large number of schemes  (98 percent) including piped water schemes continued to be based on ground water resources. Operation and Maintenance plans were either not prepared in most of the states or had deficiencies leading to schemes becoming non-functional. As a result, incidence of slip-back habitations has persisted. 

• Lastly, lack of required number of labs at states/ district/ sub-divisional level resulted shortfall in prescribed quality tests of water sources and supply thereby compromising the objective of providing safe drinking water to the rural population.

Monitoring and Evaluation: Data in the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) of the Programme lacked consistency and accuracy due to insufficient authentication and validation controls. The expert teams for inspection viz. Vigilance and Monitoring Committees to monitor and review implementation of NRDWP were either not established or were not functioning in the planned manner. Social audit of the programme to measure beneficiary level satisfaction was not conducted. Hence, the overall monitoring and oversight framework lacked effectiveness and there was inadequate community involvement in this exercise.

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