National rural drinking water programme: movement towards ensuring peoples drinking water security in rural India
In the Rural Water Supply (RWS) sector sustainability of drinking water sources and systems are a major issue. As a consequence, ensuring availability of drinking water both in terms of adequacy and quality, on a sustainable basis, is the major challenge. Water quality is impacted due to ground water table falling due to excessive drawals. The levels of natural contaminants such as fluoride and arsenic and man-made chemical pollutants such as pesticides and insecticides are high in many areas. The biological contamination of large number of drinking water sources is a serious problem, primarily due to prevalent open defecation and insanitary conditions around the drinking water sources in rural India. With the basic sanitation programme being implemented in the villages, the prevalence of water borne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, etc. is seen to have decreased, but the incidence is still relatively high in some parts of the country. Rural water supply programme must be integrated with sanitation and coordinated with primary health care and other related programmes. The new guidelines seek to promote this by formulating a coordinating mechanism that must also ensure convergence of related programmes such as NRHM, ICDS, SSA and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).