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| Last Updated:: 02/06/2012

National Water and Sanitation programme


Drinking water and sanitation facilities are very important and crucial for achieving the goal for achieving the goal of "HEALTH FOR ALL". Safe drinking water supply and basic sanitation are so intrinsically linked to human and ecosystem health that they, along with proper hygiene form the most essential components of a safe and healthy life.

Approximately 80 -90 % of untreated sewage is discharged directly into rivers and streams, the main source water supply in cities (Tibbetts 2000). Human faeces remains one of the World's most dangerous pollutants, spreading microbes that cause Typhoid, Cholera, Diarrheal illness, Amoebic Dysentery, and other virulent disease (WHO 1999).

The Union Government of India appointed the Environmental Hygiene Committee (1948 - 49), which recommended a comprehensive plan for providing safe water supply and sanitation to the population. Thereafter the National Water Supply and Sanitation Programme was launched in 1954. The United Nations declared 1981 - 1990 as the "International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade". The following targets were fixed by the Indian Government for the decade:

  • 100% Urban and Rural Water Supply
  • 50% Urban Sanitation
  • 25% Rural Sanitation

The Guinea Worm Eradication Programme was linked up with this decade. In 1986, the National Drinking Water Mission (NDWM) also known as the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission (RGDWM) was launched in order to provide scientific and cost effective content to the Centrally Sponsored Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme.

In 1990, United national General Assembly accepted the following guidelines given in the New Delhi Declaration for Water Supply and Sanitation :

  • Protection of Environment and safeguard of health through the integrated management of water resources and solid waste.
  • Organisational reforms, changing attitudes and behaviour and full participation of women.
  • Community management of services, and strengthening local Institutions.
  • Sound financial practices, and application of appropriate technology.




Under this programme following activities were considered:

  • Demand driven low cost sanitation approach
  • Involvement of private bodies, NGO's to provide sanitation facilities
  • Entrusting Panchayati Raj institutions and local administration the responsibility of Operation and Maintenance of water supply and sanitation.
  • Achieving zero incidence of Guinea worm disease by 1993 and total eradication by 1995 by improving water quality.
  • Improving sanitation in rural areas through IEC programmes, and introducing the concept of total environmental Sanitation.
  • Converting all existing Dry Latrines to Low Cost Sanitary Latrines.




Under this programme the following activities were considered:

  • Providing reasonable level of sanitation facility to a large population.
  • Total elimination of dry latrines and manual scavenging.
  • Low cost on-site sanitation in unsewered parts of cities parts of cities, small and medium towns.
  • Technological innovations to improve the re-usability of the recycled waste.
  • Polluter paying" principle should be aplied to finance waste disposal programmes.
  • Involvement of NGO's, private sector and community.
  • Converting all existing Dry Latrines to Low Cost Sanitary Latrines.
  • Recycling the treated effluents for horticulture, irrigation, water harvesting and transport system for solid waste disposal.