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NITI Aayog finds flaws in State drinking water schemes

* Only 60 per cent of rural habitation have been fully covered. However, there has been no improvement in water quality.
* Only 20 per cent of the urban population has access to potable water. Besides, there is no waste water treatment in the urban locales.

GUWAHATI, June 24: The NITI Aayog has asked the Government of Assam to initiate measures for improving the quality of potable water in the rural areas. This observation was made by the NITI Aayog in its ‘Composite Water management Index (CWMI) A Tool for Water Management’this month.

Bracketting Assam with the ‘North-eastern and Himalayan States’ category, the Aayog in its CWMI performance report for the financial year 2016-17 pointed out the sectors where Assam needs to make significant improvements. The report stated that in rural drinking water only 60 per cent of rural habitation have been fully covered, and there has been no improvement in water quality.

On the other hand with respect to the urban water sector, the report said that only 20 per cent of the urban population has access to potable water and added that no waste water is treated.

On farm use in the agricultural sector, the report said that the State has no agro climate zoning-based cultivation, nor feeder segregation and added that there is negligible micro irrigation coverage.

However, with reference to surface water restoration, the Aayog report said that the State has restored 60 per cent of the irrigation potential of the identified bodies.

The report ranks Gujarat as number one in the reference year (2016-17), followed by Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. In North Eastern and Himalayan States, Tripura has been adjudged number one in 2016-17 followed by Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam. In terms of incremental change in index (over 2015-16 level), Rajasthan holds the number one position in general States and Tripura ranks at the first position amongst the North Eastern and Himalayan States. NITI Aayog proposes to publish these ranks on an annual basis in future.

Assam, Nagaland, Uttarakhand and Meghalaya have the lowest index score in the financial year 2016-17. Of all States,ranging from 26 to 31, this low performance involves low score across almost all indicator themes.

The CWMI is an important tool to assess and improve the performance of States/Union Territories in efficient management of water resources. This has been done through a first of its kind water data collection exercise in partnership with the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation and all the States/ Union Territories.The index would provide useful information for the States and also for the concerned Central Ministries/Departments enabling them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources.Simultaneously, a web portal on the subject has also been launched.

The CWMI has been developed by NITI Aayog comprising nine broad sectors with 28 different indicators covering various aspects of ground water, restoration of water bodies, irrigation, farm practices, drinking water, policy and governance. For the purposes of analysis, the reporting states were divided into two special groups – ‘North Eastern and Himalayan States’ and ‘Other States’, to account for the different hydrological conditions across these groups.