Under NDA, rural drinking water takes a back seat -Sneha Alexander & Vishnu Padmanabhan
Since 2014, the NDA has cut funding for rural drinking water and focused more on sanitation, leaving millions without access to safe and assured water
Water is central to human sustenance but millions of Indians do not get enough of it. In 2015, 163 million Indians lacked access to clean water near their homes, the highest figure in the world according to WaterAid, a non-governmental organization focusing on global water issues. Most of these Indians live in rural areas where both the quantity and quality of water is inadequate. Under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), these issues have been addressed slightly but remain prevalent—in part because of a diminishing focus on rural water supply.
Water is a state subject but the Union government influences its supply through the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP). Launched in 2009 by the United Progressive Alliance-II (UPA-II), NRDWP provides state governments with the funds to build the infrastructure, such as piped connections, to deliver water to rural households for domestic use (broadly drinking, cooking and sanitation).
However, it has actually slashed NRDWP’s funding. In 2014-15, only 0.6% of total government funding was allocated to NRDWP and by 2018-19 even this had shrunk to 0.2%. In an NRDWP budget brief, Accountability Initiative, a non-profit research organization, points out that not only has allocation decreased, but actual fund releases have also fallen sharply. In 2017-18, just 72% of allocated funds were spent by NRDWP.
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