Home Institution

Whitman College

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

India: Culture and Development


Water is arguably the most important natural resource for human development, economic growth, and sustainability of the environment. Access to clean water is the most basic human need for life and health, and without it people cannot survive. Water plays a crucial role in determining where communities settle and how big they will be able to grow. Besides being the “elixir of life,” it is also essential for socioeconomic development, agriculture, industry, power generation, and other daily activities. Due to the growing population and the shortage of water around the world, it is said that future wars will be fought over water issues. Although water is used for many purposes, its most important use is for drinking. Drinking water, after irrigation, is the second largest water sector in terms of volume. Around the world, systems of providing drinking water are under increasing pressure to provide more and more water of better quality. The increasing demand for water is due to the growing population, urbanization, and also a rise in the global standard of living. A higher standard of living corresponds with an increase in water use, and also a demand for a higher quality of water. As water is a finite resource that is difficult and expensive to collect and transport on a mass scale, the supply is not able to keep up with the growing demand. For this reason, water regulation and management is a critical issue to study. Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General, says, “Access to water is a fundamental human need and therefore a basic human right.” Despite the wide acceptance of the fact that having access to drinking water is a basic right by many international organizations and national governments in theory, in practice water is still not being provided to everyone. The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) 2008 report states that 884 million people, one-eighth of the world’s population, do not have access to safe water. Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 10% of the world disease burden is preventable by managing water in a better way, and about 62% of this prevention can come from fixing the drinking water and sanitation sectors alone. India, especially Rajasthan, has more than its share of water problems. Rajasthan is India’s largest state, covering about 10% of its total area and housing 5% of the population, but it possesses only about 1.16% of country’s water resources. The lack of water to begin with has made the government’s task of providing water to its citizens difficult. Poor rainfall and excessive dependence on groundwater, both for irrigation and drinking purposes, along with the over-exploitation of these sources has made the task of providing a safe and potable water supply even more impossible in recent years. However, a Rajasthan High Court order states that, “drinking water is a fundamental right under Article 21[Right to Life] of the constitution and the state is duty bound to provide safe drinking water to every citizen.” Therefore, it is important that the limited amount of water Rajasthan has now is managed correctly so that the state can provide clean water to all. This study analyzes government policies in relation to clean drinking water management in Jaipur and the surrounding area. It focuses on two current policies being implemented by the Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED) in urban and rural areas: the Bisalpur Water Supply Project (BWSP) within the city, and the Rajasthan Integrated Fluoride Mitigation Program (RIFMP) in the villages. It outlines the steps that the government is taking to implement these programs, and analyzes their effectiveness in providing an adequate supply of clean drinking water to the people. Water policy goals, taken from India’s 11th Five-Year Plan, the Rajasthan State Water Policy, and the Planning Commission of India’s Water Policy and Action Plan for 2020: An Alternative, are used as a standard against which to measure the progress of the two programs. Also, public opinions are used to evaluate both the current water situation and the impacts of these programs.


Economics | Growth and Development | Public Policy


Article Location