Evaluating water perspectives in 4 Indian states (PART 1)

This is a report evaluating the water and related concerns in 4 states of India – Bihar, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan. Every week a part of the report will be published. Introduction of the report has been provided in this post.)

Author : Konica Sehgal

  1. Introduction

Rural India is home to about 67% of the India’s population. India has about 4% of the world’s freshwater resources; making it one of the top ten water rich countries. It is also home to 17% of the world population, making it the second most populated country in the world.

India has been designated as ‘a water stressed nation’, contrary to the vast expanse of available water sources[1]. On average, India receives a precipitation of 4000km3; however, due to variations in space and time of rainfall across India, the average annual flow in rivers available as a water source stands at 1869km3.Out of this only 1123km3is utilizable. The per capita water availability In India as per 2010 stands at 1588m3.If the utilization goes on business as usual, this would disproportionately put more pressure on the poorer sections of the society, due to un-pragmatic tic distribution and lack of their ability to lobby for their rights.

Water is a state subject under Indian constitution. Adequate and potable drinking water to the whole of India has been a priority since Independence. In 1972, government launched a centrally assisted scheme, Accelerated Rural Water Supply Program (ARWSP), which aimed at accelerating the pace of water supply coverage in the villages. Furthermore, many committees were formed and amendments were made formulating policies and setting targets. With amendments 73rd and 74th of the Indian Constitution, water and sanitation were included in the list of subjects to be devolved to the panchayats in rural areas. The objective was to delegate the control, operation and maintenance of water supply system to the community. Currently, Govt. of India has been financially assisting states under the umbrella of National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) to envelope the entire nation under water coverage. As per 2011, 72% of the habitations were fully covered with adequate drinking water while the rest are either partially covered or have contaminated water sources.

1.1 Drinking Water Coverage in India

The officials recording the availability and quality of water supplied to the rural households have performed extensive surveys. Whether the habitation is receiving enough water is measured by coverage where the habitation is classified as covered, partially covered or not covered. A habitation is covered if it receives above 40 lpcd, partially covered if it receives between 10lpcd and 40lpcd and not covered if it gets less than 10 lpcd of water. Coverage of habitations is undertaken by providing piped water to households and installing hand pumps, tube wells and bore wells in the habitations.

We focus on four states, namely, Bihar, Odisha, Rajasthan and Maharashtra and map their performances and progress under NRDWP and other schemes.


Table 1: Extent of coverage by PWS schemes

Source: Lok sabha Questionnaire (


Bihar is the worst performing state with only 6.09% of habitations covered under PWS scheme while Odisha and Bihar are among the states with the lowest percentage of household connections with PWS. This below average performance of both these states is matched by their dismal performances in the sanitation schemes as Odisha has the highest proportion of households practicing Open Defecation (77%) followed by Bihar(76%) as on 31/03/2016. Thus, it has been clearly established that water provision is a critical parameter to sanitation coverage too.

A large percentage of habitations are being covered by installing hand pumps and tube wells with piped water provision being an ultimate goal. The following table gives us the details of the trajectory of coverage of habitations by installation of hand pumps and tube wells over the past two years. 


Table 2: Coverage of habitations through hand pumps in financial years 14-15 and 15-16

Source: Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (http://indiawater.gov.in/imisreports/Reports/Physical/rpt_RWS_ProgressiveCoverage_S.aspx?Rep=0&RP=Y)



Table 3: The coverage of habitations under PWS in the financial years 14-15 and 15-16

Source: Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (http://indiawater.gov.in/imisreports/Reports/Physical/rpt_RWS_ProgressiveCoverage_S.aspx?Rep=0&RP=Y)

Bihar and Odisha are two of the five states with Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh that have targeted more number of habitations for hand pump installations than Piped Water Supply scheme. Moreover, the coverage progress rate in both hand pump installation and PWS is worst in Bihar of all states[2] (12% and 3% respectively) while Odisha being the slowest in PWS provision (23%). Rajasthan has achieved 100% both in hand pump installation and piped water schemes while Maharashtra did not go for any water pump installation in 2016-17.


[1] Source: World Resource Institute; http://www.wri.org/sites/default/files/aqueduct-water-stress-country-rankings-technical-note.pdf

Source: Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation; http://indiawater.gov.in/imisreports/Reports/Physical/rpt_RWS_ProgressiveCoverage_S.aspx?Rep=0&RP=Y