Water Study

Assessment Study on Availability of Drinking Water and Safety Scenario in Assam Sponsored by UNICEF and IIT Guwahati:

It was with the objective of ensuring the Drinking Water Security (DWS) on a sustainable basis at household level through the framework of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) that the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) was launched in 2009 targeting planning, implementation and management of Rural Water Supply Programme. This programme is be implemented in accordance with the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 which provided for devolution of powers and responsibilities to different tiers of PRIs (Dept. of Drinking Water Supply, GoI, 2010). The study was carried out from November 2011 to February 2012 in five districts (Kamrup, Jorhat, Sonitpur, Cachar and Udalguri) to understand five major areas of water supply viz. Community willingness to participate in planning, implementation O&M and their capacity to manage the water supply scenario in the rural areas; conditions of existing Water Supply Schemes and their Cost of O&M; Panchayat’s willingness to operate and maintain water supply schemes and their managerial and technical capacity; Available legal provisions under the Panchayati Raj Act for Water Supply and Sanitation in Rural areas; and Water Supply facilities provided by PHED during 2009-2010. The study finds that PHED has played an important role in providing water supply to the rural areas of Assam. However, its services need much improvement. The community in general is willing to participate in planning, implementation, operation and maintenance of water supply schemes. However, their capacity to do the same is rather limited. The GPs and VCDCs are also willing to operate and maintain water supply schemes though they are neither aware of their legally obligated role in this regard nor have they implemented any schemes. In none of the GPs under study, VWSC is functioning as per the guideline. They must be imparted with technical and managerial training if they are to play their legally bestowed role in water supply and sanitation in the rural areas of Assam.

Summing Up of recommendations and findings:

Summing up the recommendations on part of PHED, on policy and strategy and water quality & sources, the following recommendation are being made as outcome of the study:

On Part of PHED
  • PHED should focus on mobilizing awareness among the community about importance of safe drinking water & form user group committee.
  • Better coordination should be established between the PHED, the GPs and the local community.
  • After a scheme attains self-sustainability, the experienced operators from such schemes may be engaged as trainers of new operators.
  • There may be some special provisions for the BPL families
Policy and Strategy
  • The state should consider the transfer of the responsibilities and power to the PRIs regarding O & M of water supply and sanitation as per constitutional provisions.
  • The location of the schemes should be strategically selected (Public institutions like school or village cultural centre)
  • Some coordination with the power supply agencies may be made to tackle the power issue.
Water Quality & Sources
  • Use of river water—need-based replacement of underground water source by the available surface water source may be undertaken as in the case of Saster PWSS in Kamrup district.
  • Conduct scientific hydrological study, particularly in Udalguri district, to have a better understanding of availability of water.
  • Water quality test of the schemes should be made more regular.