At long last, someone has spoken out for rural women. The Standing Committee on Urban and Rural Development wants the government to change existing norms and provide safe drinking water in rural areas within 0.5 km of villages. With an average need of 40 liters per family, women now have to trudge a minimum of 1.6 kms.
In its report to the Parliament last month, the Committee took serious note of the fact that reports on the availability of potable water based on a survey conducted in 1991 is yet to be finalised. This should be done forthwith, it has stressed.
The Committee has also recommended tightening of monitoring mechanisms, to ensure smooth and uninterrupted water supply. For this the ministry should have comprehensive data pertaining to new villages and bastis with poor water quality, rapidly depleting sources, and villages with storage problems.
But given the government's abysmal rural development record, it will be years before village women can take a casual stroll to get sparkling clear drinking water.
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