The drinking water stress is one of the biggest national concerns in India. Going with the population explosion, it is a threat to the people’s livelihoods besides being a hurdle to the nation’s socio-economic development.
Despite being a renewable natural asset, the availability and accessibility of fresh and usable water is limited.
The inadequate (or denial of) access to water and sanitation to the poor in India has been going on for a long time, even before the advent of economic reforms.
In India, where the right to water is not enshrined as a Fundamental Right in the Constitution, the Courts, at both state and federal level, have interpreted Article 21 of the Constitution—the Right to Life—as encompassing the right to safe and sufficient water and sanitation.
The Right to Water in India is not expressly guaranteed–either through the Constitution or adequate legislation.
The citizens of India have rights like the Right to Education, Right to Food for its children, the Right to Information. It is high time that the Right to Clean Drinking Water is included in the list.
THE ROLE OF STAKEHOLDERS
There is a need to ensure proper support to communities, including that for capacity building at different levels.
There is an urgent need to regulate groundwater and prevent its over-exploitation. One way to do this is to empower Panchayats and other local authorities, encouraging self-governance at the ground zero level.
For this purpose, taluka/ panchayat and block-wise water balance studies should be undertaken on priority basis so as to provide data for self-management and its implementation.
Adequate provisions should be made for maintenance of wells and ponds, which should be owned and managed by the local community.
There is a need to recognize the special role of women for water management especially at local levels.
Special efforts should be made to avoid or reduce leakages of piped water.
Penalty should be imposed on those polluting water in accordance with ‘Polluter Pays’ principle.
Misuse of water as well as its contamination by industries should be penalized. Industries should use more and more of recycled sewage water. Legal framework for water auditing for industries is needed.
The practice of industries using groundwater free of cost should stop.
Rainwater harvesting should be adopted at the household level in both urban and rural areas. Adequate incentives are required for adoption of green technologies.
There is need to take up massive awareness programmes on climate change for the general public, students, local level functionaries, and other stakeholders at the Block/Panchayat levels in the state so as to enhance their coping capacity.