National Water Quality Sub Mission

Prelims & Mains

National Water Quality Sub Mission

Government launched National Water Quality Sub Mission on Arsenic and Fluoride to provide safe drinking water

Government launched National Water Quality Sub Mission on Arsenic and Fluoride to provide safe drinking water to about 28,000 affected habitations in the country by March 2021 with an outlay of Rs 25,000 crore.

There are about 17 lakh 14 thousand rural habitations in India, of which about 77 percent have been provided with safe drinking water of more than 40 liters per person per day and about 4 percent of the habitations are suffering from problems of water quality.

Government is committed to providing tap water on a sustained basis in every household by 2030 as per the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for which Rs 23,000 crore of central fund will be required annually till the target is achieved.

The dream of ‘Har Ghar Jal’ cannot be realized without the involvement of the citizens. There are about 2,000 Blocks in the country with an acute shortage of surface and ground water sources and called for conservation of water on war footing through convergence of schemes like MGNREGA.

Background of the National Water Quality Sub Mission

About 76 percent of rural habitations in India have achieved a fully covered (FC) status, under the National Rural Drinking Water Program, with basic minimum service level of 40liters per capita daily(lpcd), but this coverage is primarily through hand-pumps and does not necessarily translate into sustainable and good quality service delivery.

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Around 70,000 habitations are suffering from problems of water quality and only 54 percent of the 170 million plus rural households have access to tap water.

The major physio-chemical pollutants include Arsenic, Fluoride, Iron, Salinity and Nitrate, with critical being Arsenic and Fluoride since they pose immediate health hazard compared to the others.

Arsenic is a carcinogenic element and is associated with skin, lung, bladder, kidney, and liver cancer. Dermatological, developmental, neurological, respiratory, cardiovascular, immunological, and endocrine effects are also evident.

Fluorosis, a public health problem, is caused by excess intake of fluorides through drinking water/food products/industrial pollutants, over a prolonged period. It causes severe health related disorders such as dental fluorosis, skeletal fluorosis and non-skeletal fluorosis besides inducing ageing.

These harmful effects, being permanent and irreversible in nature, are detrimental to the health of an individual and the community, which in turn have an impact on growth, development, economy and human resource development of the country.

To address the issue of last mile coverage and eliminate problems of Arsenic and Fluoride in all the habitations, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation proposes a program focused on Arsenic and Fluoride.

This programme aims to take India one step closer toward international standards of Water Quality by the year 2020.

Defining standard drinking water quality:

Bureau of Indian Standards set specifications in its IS—10500-2012 standards for drinking water. However, this standard is only voluntary in nature and not legally supported for enforcement. This standard has two limits:

  • Desirable limits
  • Maximum permissible or cause for rejection limits

If any parameter exceeds the cause for rejection limit, that water is considered as contaminated.

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Broadly speaking, water is defined as contaminated if it is

Biologically contaminated (presence of microscopic organisms such as algae, zoo-plankton, flagillates, E-coli etc)


Chemical contamination exceeds permissible limits (e.g. excess fluoride [>1.5mg/l], salinity i.e., Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) [>2,000mg/l], dissolved iron [>0.3mg/l], arsenic [>0.01mg/l], nitrates [>45mg/l] etc.)

Steps taken by the Ministry  for tackling drinking water contamination:

The Ministry has prepared a Strategy Plan to provide safe drinking water to 90% of the rural population of the country preferably through surface water based piped water supply schemes by the year 2022 as a long-term sustainable solution, subject to availability of funds.

The Ministry has encouraged all the States to commission surface water based piped water supply schemes in all water quality affected habitations as a long term sustainable solution

All States have been advised to install community water purification plants, in and fluoride affected habitations by March 2017, as this is quicker compared to m alto on of piped water supply schemes.

This is being done as a short term immediate measure for providing 8-10 lpcd (litre per capita per day) of safe water for drinking and cooking purpose only

Why National Water Quality Sub Mission

The proposed program warrants a National Sub-Mission to be completed on mission mode before March 2020 due to:

  • Criticality and urgency of the matter
  • Requirement of significant increase in operational efficiency
  • Requirement of additional funds, robust monitoring and surveillance of those
  • Requirement of special technology, manpower and strategy to achieve the goal


To cover of all the arsenic & fluoride affected habitations with safe & perennial surface water based piped water supply schemes as the permanent & sustainable solution

Raja Raja Cholan
About Raja Raja Cholan 659 Articles
Trainer & Mentor for aspirants preparing for civil service examination

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