Does rural India have enough water to sustain open-defecation free status?

As Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin moves steadily towards 100 per cent success, according to Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) records, it seems supplying water to rural areas has taken a back seat. But, water is what’s most needed to sustain the open-defecation free (ODF) status.

According to a 2018 report by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the MDWS had promised to provide piped water connections to 35 per cent of rural households. But, the ministry’s records till April 1, 2018 show that less than 20 per cent of rural households have got it.

This is when the ministry in 2017 launched a scheme to provide safe drinking water — Har Ghar Jal. But this seems to be a distant dream. The ministry also wanted to increase drinking water supply in rural areas to 55 litres per capita per day (lpcd). But, less than 50 per cent of households receive this amount. The old supply rate was 40 lpcd and almost 80 per cent of households get it.