Flagship Jal Jeevan Mission, the Centre aims to provide safe piped water to all households by 2024.

National Rural Drinking Water Programme is a centrally sponsored scheme aimed at providing every person in rural India with “adequate, safe water” for drinking, cooking and other domestic basic needs in a “sustainable manner”, according to the ministry of drinking water and sanitation website. 

National Water Policy: The Centre plans to come out with an updated version of the National Water Policy,2012 with key changes in water governance structure and regulatory framework, besides setting up a National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency.

Ministry of drinking water and sanitation’s 2011-2022 strategic plan: one of the goals is that every rural Indian would have access to 70 lpcd within his or her household premises or at a horizontal or vertical distance of not more than 50 m.

Issuance of directions under Section 5 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to industries and under Section 18(1)(b) of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;

The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess (Amendment) Bill 2000: According to the Union ministry of environment and forests, the amendment would go a long way in checking groundwater contamination caused by the industry.

National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA) and State Coastal Zone Management Authority (SCZMA) for enforcement and monitoring of the CRZ Notification.

National Water Quality Monitoring Programme (NWQMP):  The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in association with State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) / Pollution Control Committees(PPCs) is monitoring the quality of water bodies at 2500 locations across the country under National Water Quality Monitoring Programme (NWQMP) which indicate that organic pollution is the predominant cause of water pollution.

National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA) : National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) and National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP) for conservation and management of identified lakes and wetlands in the country which have been merged into an integrated scheme of National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA) to undertake various conservation activities.

The National Water Mission (NWM), a part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), identifies the threat to water resources in India due to climate change in terms of the expected decline in the glaciers and snow-fields in the Himalayas;

Model Bill for ground water management for the states: Water falls under state list of the Constitution meaning only the state governments can frame a regulatory law. In 2011, the central government published a Model Bill for ground water management for the states.

The composite water management index: The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has developed the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) to enable effective water management in Indian states.

New National Water Policy: The Union Water Resources Ministry has finalised a committee to draft a new National Water Policy (NWP) chaired by Mihir Shah.

Concerns with policies

According to the Composite Water Management Index of the Niti Aayog, 75 percent of households do not have drinking water on premise and about 84 per cent rural households do not have piped water access.

  • Water governance is fragmented: Under Indian Constitution, the subject “water” is in the state list. However, the Centre has the mandate to resolve conflicts over use of inter-state rivers,  plan water allocation and provide technical support for large projects in generation of power, irrigation and drinking water. It leads to inconsistent water policy between the Union and states.
  • National Rural Drinking Water Programme : Piped water schemes in rural areas have been dogged by problems of infrastructure maintenance. In most states, the panchayats were not provided with the informational know-how to operate the expensive piped water systems. 
  • Wastage of water: India captures only eight per cent of its annual rainfall - among the lowest in the world.  About 80 per cent of the water reaching households in India are drained out as waste flow through sewage to pollute other water bodies including rivers and also land.
  • Law regulating groundwater: It is a curious case but the Easement Act of 1882 that gives every landowner the right to collect and dispose of groundwater and surface water within his/her own limits is still in operation.
  • The “dry pipe problem” – non availability of water despite the existence of an asset–and especially the seasonality, in that many villages depend on tankers
  • Decreasing water quality due to poor waste management laws
  • Growing financial crunch for development of resources and scarce safe drinking water. 
  • The lack of water availability and poor management practices have also manifested in poor sanitation facilities
  • Loopholes in draft National Water Policy, 2012: Absence of a commitment towards Right to Water. 
  • Lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation can be related to economic, political and social power imbalances; discrimination against certain groups or communities.
  • Population Growth: Considering the projected population growth in 2025, the per capita water availability can further decrease to 1,000 cu m, which would then be termed a 'water scarcity' situation
  • Urban Development: The increasing population means that the urban settlements not only face the challenge of meeting the water requirement but also of adequate sanitation facilities.
  • Water Loss: There are issues of leakage losses, water pricing and metering of water. Lack of proper maintenance of existing infrastructure causes further losses of almost 40 per cent of piped water in urban areas.