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Water Supply and Sanitation
Water security is essential for health, sanitation and hygiene besides food security, the environment, livelihoods, economic development and the overall well-being of society. Water is a finite resource and managing available supplies to provide an adequate supply of potable water for current and future populations is a multi-faceted challenge. Rural drinking water services have to be managed judiciously in the face of rapid socio-economic change as well as industrial and agricultural development, which have affected the quality and quantity of water available for domestic uses. Over the years, the state is facing rising water quality problems, particularly in the case of individually-drilled shallow hand pumps in many districts, and a declining availability of drinking water supplies due to increasing ground water exploitation by agriculture.

In the Northern and Central districts of the state, potable water is available in shallow / deep aquifers but shallow aquifers are not suitable for drinking due to the possibility of contamination by the discharge of untreated industrial / polluted waste water. In the Southern Districts of the state, the underground water is unsafe for drinking. The high concentration level of fluorides contributes to a high incidence of fluorosis in these areas. Drinking water in the southern districts is only available from the existing irrigation canals of the Indus River System. Since the supply of canal water is not assured all the 365 days a year, therefore water storage is necessary to achieve the regular water supply. In addition, the irrigation canal water carries high turbidity that necessitates pretreatment for filtration.  Reverse Osmosis/ Defluoridation Plants are also being installed to ensure availability of potable water for drinking and cooking purposes in the villages where existing canal based water works are located at the tail end of canal network, resulting in shortage of raw water for many days in a year or tube-well based sources contains  TDS/ Floride, Uranium/ others heavy metals etc. more than the more than permissible limits.

There are 8319 single village and multi village water supply schemes in the state, which are either tube-well based (80%) or canal based (20%). These schemes are estimated to be servicing about 27.80 lakh households in 11934 villages out of a total of about 30 lakh rural households in Punjab, through 11.26 lakh private connections and around 10,000 public stand posts. As of now access to ‘safe and adequate’ rural water supply is estimated to be available in 82.62% percent of habitations. Although 2011 Census data shows a significant change in decreasing open defecation percentage in Punjab, and sanitation coverage of 70.6%, there are no sanitation facilities for around 30% of rural households in Punjab. Of those who have access to a sanitary facility, about 94% have a toilet within their house, 4% households share a toilet with other households while about 2% households use a public toilet. Those who do not have access to a toilet practice open defecation which not only results in degraded sanitation situation but also contaminates shallow groundwater.

State government had notified Punjab State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Policy - 2014. The main aim of the new policy is to  provide 100% coverage of all households in rural areas of Punjab with at least 70 liters per capita per day of portable water, supplied through 24x7 piped and entered individual water supply connections and to ensure that 100% rural households has access to use safe sanitation facilities that do not contaminate the environment, particularly ground water.

Access to Safe Drinking Water

Punjab State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Policy, 2014

Source: Department of Water Supply and Sanitation, Government of Punjab, 2014