ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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How Relevant Are Rural Water Supply Programmes

Supply Programmes?
S K Pant IN a country where around 1.5 million children below the age of five years die due to water-borne disease every year, and the nation loses 1,800 million person-hours (over 200 million mandays), the supply of safe drinking water has been given a high priority in Indian planning. Responsibility for providing safe drinking water in rural areas rests with the states, and funds have been provided in the state budgets right from the commencement of the First Five-Year Plan. It was envisaged that the states would build up the necessary infrastructure to attend to the problems of water supply and sanitation. In spite of all these efforts, it was observed during the mid-1960s that these schemes were being implemented only in villages with easy access. The Government of India therefore requested the states to identify hard-core problem areas and provided assistance to the states to carry out Special investigations during the Fourth Plan. In 1972-73, in yet another effort to accelerate the pace of coverage, the centre introduced the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Scheme (ARWS) to cover the problem areas with 100 per cent grant.' In August 1985, the subject of rural water supply and sanitation was transferred from the ministry of urban development to the department of rural development with the basic objective of securing the implementation of the programme and its integration with other rural development programmes.

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