Dr Bindu Duggal
Water Availability and Accessibility, Scheduled collect Castes, Rural Health
|PUBLISHED DATE||September 6, 2017|
|PUBLISHER||The Author(s) 2017. This article is published with open access at www.chitkara.edu.in/publications.|
Access and availability to safe drinking water is not only an important gauge of the socioeconomic status of the household but is also imperative to the health of its members. Efforts have made for high coverage of water in Punjab. In spite of huge progress, the rural water sector still continues to face major challenges. The problem is more acute among Scheduled Castes as only 78 per cent households had drinking water source within the premises in Punjab as per Census 2011. The main objective of the study is to analyses the status and problems of water accessibility among this marginalized section of the society. The present research is based on both Secondary and Primary sources of data collected from SC households in rural Mansa in Punjab. Empirical data was collected through intensive field work using the survey method. Multi-stage sampling technique was adopted. A sample of 200 Scheduled Caste households from 10 villages was selected for the study. The present research unveils that Scheduled castes families face threats to all three prerequisites of an individual’s right to water i.e. there is insufficient water availability, lack of access to water and danger due to water quality, making them easy prey to a number of diseases.
Potable water and sanitation are explicitly recognised as important rights that are essential for the full enjoyment of life. Going by the principles of the international treaty on the rights of water, water is a fundamental human right and states must be willing and able to implement their respective obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate water. In light of the right to water framework, the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, states that an individual’s right to water includes “sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic issues.” Fulfilment of the right to water requires water that is available, safe and accessible. In brief, a person should have enough water for personal and domestic issues (including food preparation, sanitation washing clothes) and this water should be safe.
Water is a basic necessity for the survival of humans. Globally, the world is on track to meet the MDG on safe drinking water. India too is on track with 85.5 per cent population having sustainable access to safe drinking water (Census of India, 2011). Although, there have been improvements and it is felt that India is seriously targeting to achieve its aggregate level Millennium Development Goal for providing access to safe drinking water, yet nearly 130 million people in India still do not have access to clean water. Additionally, there remains a worrying discrepancy in access between urban and rural areas. About 91.4 per cent urban population in comparison to only 82.7 per cent rural population have access to safe drinking water. Meeting the drinking water needs of such a large population can be an intimidating task. Thus, lack of safe drinking water persists to be a major hurdle and a national economic burden.
Further, “About 37.7 million Indians are affected by waterborne diseases, 1.5 million children die of diarrhoea and 73 million working days are lost due to waterborne diseases annually. Further, 10.28 per cent of all habitations being affected by poor water quality. It is estimated that by 2020, India will become a water-stressed nation” (Water Aid India, 2017). Although, water is the most integral and inevitable part of each individual; however discrimination of Scheduled Caste in access to water is often cited. According to the Census of India 2011, only 35 per cent of the Scheduled Caste households had the main source of drinking water within the premises, whereas, a large 65 per cent were near or away from the premises. There were only 28 per cent households in rural areas in comparison to 57 per cent in urban areas having main drinking water source within the premises. Further, 41.3 per cent of SC households in our country has tap water from a treated source/untreated sources (29.4% from treated and 11.9% from untreated) as the main source of drinking, and the remaining draw water from rivers, canals, ponds, lakes or ‘other sources’ (not taps, hand pumps, wells, tube wells or boreholes).
Punjab ranks highest among States and UTs with 97.6 per cent households having access to safe drinking water. Safe water here means having taps, tube-well, hand-pumps as the main source for drinking water. The access to safe water supply in rural areas is estimated to be available in 96.7 per cent of the households in comparison to 99 per cent in urban households. In spite of huge progress, water in rural sector still continues to face major challenges. The problem is more acute among Scheduled Caste households. Punjab has the highest percentage of scheduled caste population in the country. There are 88.60 lacs SCs in Punjab which is 31.94 per cent of the total population (277.43 lacs) of the State. Punjab accounts for 2.3 per cent of the total population and 4.3 per cent Scheduled Caste population of India. Regarding the accessibility of water among Scheduled Castes in Punjab, only 78 per cent had drinking water source within the premises as per census 2011.These facts make it pertinent to study the plight of Dalits in Punjab who still face multiple deprivation and discrimination with regard to water facility.
|ISSN||Print : 2349-7564, Online : 2349-7769|
Access to safe drinking water is not only an indicator of the socio-economic status of the household but is also vital for the health of its members. Fulfilment of the right to water entails water that is available, accessible and safe. In spite of huge progress and highest coverage of water in Punjab; the water sector in rural areas continues to face major challenges. The problem is more acute among SC households. For many SC families in rural areas of Mansa, there are threats to all three elements of an individual’s right to water i.e. there was inadequate water availability, lack of access to water and potential danger to water quality, leading to a number of diseases. Thus, despite enormous programmes on drinking water, it is observed that access to safe drinking water remains a major challenge especially for the marginalized sections of society in Punjab. Availability of unsafe alternate water sources continues to remain the major blockade. Punjab has not been able to safeguard equal realization of the right to water for all. Upcoming programs in Punjab should take into account the problems the poor SC populations face in accessing the upgraded water supply.
In light of above, the following are some of the suggestions: