A government document that could reveal the poor state of affairs of Assam’s rural areas, more than 9,965 habitations in the rural areas are being deprived of safe drinking water facility.
Ironically, Assam achieved the dubious distinction of being the number three with 9,965 habitations lacking safe drinking water after Rajasthan with 18,897 habitations and West Bengal with 16,871 habitations that lack proper drinking water.
Documents from the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in possession of this correspondent, said that a sum of Rs 474.80 crore has been released in 2017-18 for providing safe drinking water to the rural households in Assam.
Last year’s fund allocation, however, witnessed a sharp increase from its previous years fund allocation of Rs 348.06 (2016-17) crore.
“As per information provided by State Governments on the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) of the Ministry, 79.48 percent and 16.87 percent of the rural habitations are categorized as fully covered (getting at least 40 litres per capita per day of safe water) and partially covered (getting less than 40 litres per capita per day of safe water) respectively. Remaining 3.65 percent habitations don’t have access to safe drinking water,” said a senior official in the ministry of drinking water and sanitation.
The Ministry administers centrally sponsored National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) for providing financial and technical assistance to states for providing safe drinking water to all the rural households in the country.
Rural drinking water supply is a state subject.
“The responsibility of implementation and execution of various water supply schemes under the programme lies with the State. Under National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), this ministry provides technical & financial assistance to states to improve the coverage of safe drinking water in rural areas. There is also direct funding of substantial amount to rural local bodies for various basic services including water supply. To supplement further, the States have been advised to pool more funds from external assistance or loan from lending institutions,” the official said.
On an average, all other northeastern states provide safe drinking waters to its rural households.