Rs 1,400 crore for setting up water purification plants

Ministry of drinking water and sanitation gets Rs 15,260 crore

By Soma Basu
Published: Thursday 28 February 2013

Admitting that there are 2,000 arsenic-affected and 12,000 fluoride-affected rural habitations in the country, Finance Minister P Chidambaram announced Rs 1,400 crore for setting up water purification plants.

For clean drinking water and sanitation, Chidambaram allocated Rs 15,260 crore to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, as against the allocation of Rs 13,000 crore in the current year.

In the Budget last year, Rs 50 crore was allocated to establish a world-class centre for water quality with focus on arsenic contamination in Kolkata. According to 2011 Census, nearly two-thirds of the households in India now have access to phones and LPG for cooking. But less than half the number of households have access to basic toilet facilities, and over a third do not have access to safe drinking water. About 36 per cent households have to go out of their homes to fetch water and 49.2 per cent defecate in the open. Only 46.9 per cent of India’s 24.66 crore households have toilet facility. Jharkhand tops the list with 77 per cent of households having no toilet facilities followed by 76.6 per cent in Odisha and 75.8 per cent in Bihar.

While 87 per cent of the households now use taps, tube wells, handpumps and covered wells as the main source for drinking water, only 47 per cent have the source of water within the premises. A good 36 per cent households still have to fetch water from a source located within 500 metres in rural areas and 100 metres in urban areas.

Experts had always claimed that government spending on water and sanitation is grossly inadequate. According to the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, government spending under these heads has been on the decline, from 0.59 per cent of GDP in 2008-09 to 0.54 per cent in 2009-10 and further down to 0.42 per cent in 2010-11.

As many as 43 of the country’s 88 industrial clusters are critically polluted while another three are severely polluted, according to the Central Pollution Control Board. Besides, water safety is threatened by natural contamination such as salinity (Rajasthan, Kerala, Karnataka), iron (Assam, Bihar, Chattisgarh), nitrate (Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra), fluoride (Rajasthan, Karnataka, Bihar) and arsenic (Assam, West Bengal, Bihar).


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