SDG 6.1—Drinking Water Supply

Hitesh Vaidya

Hitesh Vaidya
Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA)

Water is the most important natural resource and needs to be used in a sustainable manner. Rapid urbanisation, coupled with no new raw water sources, poor infrastructure and inefficient water governance is leading to water scarcity and water stress in urban areas. India is also facing major issues such as depletion in groundwater levels, deteriorating freshwater resources, and lack of access to safe drinking water sources to fulfil the demands of the citizens. To end this crisis, there is an urgent need to implement effective solutions for improving the availability and accessibility to safe drinking water.

India has initiated a number of national mission and programmes in recent times to improve the drinking water supply in urban areas. The Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) – Phase 1 & 2 have been launched to provide basic services like water supply, sewerage etc. to urban households, and to help in improving quality of life. In AMRUT 1.0, around 105 lakh1 households were covered with water tap connections. While in AMRUT 2.0, target is to provide 2.68 crore2 new water tap connections to all 4,700 cities and towns. The Government of India has also partnered with states to implement the scheme—Jal Jeevan Mission-Har Ghar Jal—aiming to provide potable water in adequate quantity to every household by 2024.

In October 2020, Drink from Tap mission was launched in Odisha by Housing and Urban Development Department (H&UDD), Government of Odisha and Water Corporation of Odisha (WATCO) to help the people in solving the severe challenges they were facing in terms of drinking water supply, and water supply services. NIUA has collaborated with the Government of Odisha to evaluate the efficiency and impact of their Drink from Tap mission in the urban local bodies of the state.

This issue on SDG 6.1— achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all—is a compilation of seven articles and four interviews related to urban water supply system and management, policy framework for urban water supply, 24×7 water supply, distribution of water supply sources, access to safe drinking water by economically weaker sections and marginalised communities.

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NIUA is committed to helping Indian cities perform better. To achieve this objective, along with our own resources, we partner with media, industry, academia and other government and non-government organisations for effective research, capacity-building and advocacy outcomes. The collaboration of the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) and eGov Magazine is a demonstration of the same. Teams at NIUA and eGov Magazine have enthusiastically worked to collate a diverse range of knowledge-base on the cross-cutting issues of urban drinking water supply issues in India for this special issue. My sincere thanks to all the authors who have contributed to this special issue and shared their knowledge to make this issue possible.