(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Water Conservation: Initiatives and Future Strategies

(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Water Conservation: Initiatives and Future Strategies


Water Conservation: Initiatives and Future Strategies


  • With a country generating 140 BCM of waste water annually, mismanagement of waste water which also contaminates groundwater, lacking liquid waste management, poor sanitation conditions and poor hygiene habits have contributed to a major portion of population suffering from water-borne diseases. 

Key facts:

  • The per person disease burden due to unsafe water and sanitation was 40 times higher in India than in China and 12 times higher than in Sri Lanka in 2016. Unsafe water, sanitation, and hand-washing are responsible for 4.6 percent of the disease burden through diarrhoeal diseases and other infections.
  • The disease burden from unsafe water and sanitation was 5 percent of the total in 2016. Total number of cases of water borne diseases (Cholera, Acute Diarrhoeal Diseases, Enteric Fever (Typhoid) and Hepatitis A and E) were 1.65 crores in 2016 and 1.53 crores in 2017 with deaths ranging from 2,520 in 2016, 2,334 in 2017 and 1,917 in 2018. 
  • In contrast, Global Health Observatory data repository of World Health Organisation (WHO) quotes number of diarrhea deaths from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene as 2,43,551(total of all age groups) and number of diarrhea DALYs from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene as 1,17,31,606 (total of all age groups) in 2016. 
  • These stats clearly indicate the need of swift action on the part of Government and it is heartening to see that Government of India has taken several actions in this direction.

Water conservation provisions as per Constitution of India:

  • As per the Indian Constitution, Water and Sanitation are state-subjects under List II of the Seventh Schedule. The responsibility of planning, funding and implementation of water resources and sanitation projects, primarily lies with the state governments. 
  • The Central Government plays an advisory role, and therefore, with the formulation of various policies and the Model Bills, the Centre is making efforts to develop and manage the projects and its uses in various sectors of economic development. 
  • Along with the centre, many states have also come up with innovative measures to encourage water conservation and better sanitation practices in their respective jurisdictions. The next sections of the article are going to elucidate some interventions/schemes of centre and states which have brought phenomenal changes in the overall scenario of water and sanitation in the country and provide a way forward about the needs of the sector which have to be fulfilled in coming future to make India a water secure and hygienic country.

Government Initiatives:

  • On 15th August 2019, Prime Minister launched the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) worth Rs 3.6 lakh crore to supply piped water to every rural household. The vision of the JJM is "Every rural household has drinking water supply in adequate quantity of prescribed quality on regular and long-term basis at affordable service delivery charges leading to improvement in living standards of rural communities". 
  • The programme also implements source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, such as recharge and reuse through grey water management, water conservation and rain water harvesting. The Jal Jeevan Mission is based on a community approach to water and will include extensive IEC as a key component of the mission.
  • JJM looks to create a jan andolan for water, thereby making it everyone’s priority. Since the inception of the Jal Jeevan Mission, the percentage of rural household having access to safe drinking water increased from 18 percent to 28.41 percent.

Atal Bhujal Yojana:

  • In 2020 Budget, Rs. 200 Crore has been allotted for Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY). ABHY envisages sustainable ground water management, mainly through convergence among various on-going schemes, with emphasis on demand side measures through active involvement of local communities and stakeholders. 
  • This aspect makes the ABHY a unique centrally sponsored scheme which will endeavor to facilitate efficient implementation and convergence of various ongoing Central and State schemes in the participating States.
  • ABHY will also play a key role in drought proofing, thereby improving climate resilience in select water stressed areas, create better job opportunities through improved skill development, etc., all leading ultimately to sustainable management of ground water.
  • NITI Aayog, as the premier think tank of Government of India, has also developed a mechanism to compare the efforts of various states in water conservation. In pursuit of competitive & cooperative federalism and keeping in view the criticality of water for life, Aayog has developed a Composite Water Management Index (CWMI).
  • The CWMI as a yearly exercise is an important tool to assess and improve the performance of States/Union Territories in efficient management of water resources. CWMI compromises 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. 
  • The data for the 28 key performance indicators are uploaded by the States on the online web portal. Index has been quite successful in sensitising the states about the impending water scarcity in the Nation. Since launch of round I of the Index, 80 percent of the states have shown improvement with average change in scores being +5.2 points.

Jal Shakti Abhiyan Key Intervention Areas:

  1. Water conservation and rainwater harvesting. 
  2. Renovation of traditional and other water bodies/tanks.
  3. Recharge and Reuse Structures.
  4. Watershed development.
  5. Intensive afforestation.

Way forward:

  • Growth and development are not the words which we can afford to use in describing the economy of the Nation but they have multi-faceted aspects including social, political, institutional well-being.
  • While talking about growth we cannot ignore the existence of the dreadful phrases like water scarcity and climate change. 
  • In order to achieve sustainable development in the country, we have to look for solutions which may result in overhauling of the present mode of operations in water sector. Some of the changes suggested are as under:
  1. Making Water as Part of Economic Development: Improved water supply and sanitation and improved water resources management boost countries’ economic growth and contributes greatly to poverty eradication. The economic benefits of improved water supply and sanitation far outweigh the investment costs.
  2. Introduction of Water Markets at Large Scale: It is high time that along with the public good, water should be treated as the high value economic good. There is need to introduce water markets to make more productive use of water and contribute to sustainable water management.
  3. Pollution Tax as the Remedy to Decrease Pollution in Water Bodies: The cost of water security has to be distributed to different stakeholders and the entities and communities which are harming the resources have to pay for their right to being polluter. Introduction of predetermined water pollution charges for surface and groundwater use or charges for wastewater discharge could have a significant incentive effect to prevent and control pollution, maintain proper sanitation and enhance water use efficiency. The pollution tax should be regarded as the part of Extended Prouder Responsibility (EPR).
  4. New strategies to support Public Private Partnership in Water Sector: Governments can play a role in helping to attract new investors by enabling public and private actors to earn returns commensurate to the risks they take. Governments may consider providing risk mitigation to long-term investment projects where it would result in more appropriate allocation of risks and their associated returns. Guarantees play a critical role in mitigating the risks financiers face. Similarly, public money can be used to cover parts of the risks that private financiers (debt or equity) are unable to take.


  • All these structural reforms, if implemented in phase and detailed manner, can immensely benefit the existing programmes and schemes of both state and central government. 
  • They will decrease the overall dependency on the government sector and make the sector self-reliant, attractive and profitable for number of investors which is a crux for growth of not only any sector but the entire country.



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Courtesy: Kurukshetra