Water Relief: Key government initiatives for the sector

Despite being a peninsular country, India continues to face water problems. Cha­llenges such as water theft, customer meter errors and water leakage due to ageing pipelines lead to 40 per cent wastage. Deple­ting groundwater levels, inadequate rainfall and unequal supply of water are other iss­u­es prevailing across states. According to NITI Aayog, a large number of Indians face high to ex­treme water stress. This calls for more de­pe­n­dable and cost-efficient arrangements of wa­ter supply. The government has been taking several initiatives including launching various schemes and missions to ensure proper water supply.

Jal Jeevan Mission

With the aim to ensure the supply of quality drinking water in every rural household by 2024, the central government, in partnership with the states, launched the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) on Au­gust 15, 2019. Within three years of its commencement, this programme has made noteworthy progress. According to recent data issued by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, over 106 million rural households have been provided with tap water supply under the mission. States including Goa, Telangana, Gujarat and Haryana as well as union territories such as the Anda­man & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Da­man & Diu, and Puducherry have secured 100 per cent water supply connections.

The state governments have been making efforts to ensure the smooth implementation of this programme through capacity building and knowledge sharing. To this end, workshops, con­ferences, webinars and field visits are be­ing organised by a multidisciplinary team to provide technical support.

To encourage the states, the central government has sanctioned another round of funds. These include funds worth Rs 1.66 billion for Tripura to ensure water supply in every household. In another development, the Kar­nataka government has launched a multivillage drinking water scheme under the JJM. Un­der this scheme, 156 residential buildings will be supplied with drinking water in Tarikere, Kar­nataka, at an estimated investment of Rs 3.75 billion.

The Tamil Nadu government has allocated funds worth Rs 6.05 billion for water supply in villages around Valliyoor in Radhapu­ram. Under this initiative, infiltration wells would be dug in Tamirabharani, near Mun­neer­pallam in Tamil Nadu. It will cover 360 villages near Valli­yoor and ensure the supply of 55 litres of drinking water a day to all residents of these villages.

Namami Gange programme

The Namami Gange programme was announc­ed as a flagship programme by the central government in June 2014 with a budget outlay of Rs 200 billion to accomplish the objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation, and rejuvenation of the national river Ganga. The programme objective is to reduce pollution and rejuvenate the river. Within a month of the programme’s launch, 704 industries along the Ganga’s coast were inspected by the National Ganga River Basin Authority for environmental violation. It was scheduled to be completed by December 2020; however, the programme’s completion date has been extended. The second phase commenced in 2021 and is expected to get completed by 2026.

As of October 2022, 98 sewage infrastructure projects had been  completed under the Namami Gange programme across nine states. The maximum number of projects were completed in Uttar Pradesh (59 projects), followed by Uttarakhand (41 projects). In terms of sanctioned cost, Uttar Pradesh takes the lead with Rs 119.41 billion.

Smart Cities Mission

Launched by the Ministry of Housing and Ur­ban Affairs (MoHUA) on June 25, 2015, the Sm­art Cities Mission aims to develop 100 sm­art cities in the country. The central and state governments have allocated budgets worth Rs 1 billion per city per year. In a bid to improve water supply coverage more efficiently, smart cities are incorporating technologies such as smart meters and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)  into their day-to-day operations. The use of these technologies enables cities to better manage water distribution networks. Further, these technologies curb the generation of non-revenue water (NRW) in the area. As of early December 2022, the centre has released funds worth Rs 340 billion for 100 smart cities of which more than Rs 300 billion has been utilised.

Some of the projects under the mission in­clude a smart urban water supply system, augmentation and automation at water source and water treatment plants in Dharamshala; provision and construction of a drainage line and a water supply network, and an underground water tank in the fort precincts in Surat; and a water transport system in the Jhelum river in Jammu & Kashmir.


The Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) was launched in June 2015 with the aim to provide basic services such as water supply, sewage disposal and ur­ban transportation to households and build am­enities in cities to improve the quality of life for all. This programme is being implemented in two phases. Under the first phase, 4,700 projects worth Rs 331.24 billion were completed along with a total state annual action plan worth Rs 776.4 billion.

The second phase of AMRUT started in October 2021. Since then, a significant amou­nt of work has been undertaken in various parts of the country. As per data released by MoHUA, projects entailing an investment of Rs 298.1 billion have been completed under the scheme till July 2022, while 1,345 projects en­tailing an investment of Rs 525.32 billion are under progress. Detailed project re­por­ts worth Rs 830.15 billion were approved under AMRUT 2.0 till July 2022. These projects aim to provide 13.9 million tap water connections and 14.5 million sewer connections in AMRUT cities.

Under AMRUT 2.0, many states are undertaking initiatives to improve water network ma­na­gement. The Madhya Prade­sh government has approved funds worth Rs 70 million under this scheme for Unhel city, in Ujjain district. It ai­ms to make villages water secure and self-sustained in multiple ways. The state gov­er­nment prioritises providing 135 litres of wa­ter per person, including other basic services.

In another development, as per the UT Water Action Plan (UTWAP) under AMRUT 2.0, 153 projects worth Rs 16.65 billion for 78 ULBs of Jammu & Kashmir have been appro­v­ed. The UTWAP will cover 99 projects under water supply, and four under sewerage and septage management along with 50 waterbodies. Of the total approved allocation, Rs 7.44 billion has been set aside under the Housing and Urban Development Department’s capex budget to provide universal household water tap connections to all urban areas of Jammu & Kashmir, round-the-clock water supply, and pro­vide coverage to households under sewerage and seepage management as part of AMRUT, in three cities including Srinagar, Jam­mu, and Anantnag. Meanwhile, the Nashik Mu­nicipal Corporation is planning to submit a proposal to the Maharashtra Urban Develop­ment Department for upgrading water supply distribution in Nashik.

In sum

Over the past decade, the government has be­en making efforts to provide clean drinking water to the entire population of the country. With the support of the World Bank, the government is working on improving groundwater management under its national groundwater programme – Atal Bhujal Yojana. This is the world’s largest community-led groundwater management programme covering 9,000 gram panchayats across seven states. It is educating villagers on water availability and usage patterns so that they can budget their water consumption accordingly.

Not only the central government, but the state governments too have been taking proactive measures to improve water network mana­g­ement in their respective states. According to India Infrastructure Research, over 20,000 km of pipeline network expansion is anticipated in the water segment in the coming years and over 12,000 km of network is expected to be added in the wastewater treatment segment. How­ever, despite the implementation of various technologies and schemes, India still has a long way to go in terms of achieving a sustainable water network.