Over 50% of cities in a dozen major Indian states do not have access to either piped water supply or sewerage system, a consequence of infrastructure not keeping pace with India’s urban population that grew from 27% in 2001 to 31% in 2011, a government survey has found.
A first of its kind attempt by the urban development (UD) ministry to assess the quality of four basic services — water supply, sewerage, solid waste management and storm water drainage — provided by urban local bodies (ULBs) in 1,405 cities across 12 states, has thrown up dismal statistics.
While over 50% of the cities do not have access to piped water supply, in about 80% of the households the average water supply is less than five hours a day. Over 70% of the households do not have access to toilet or sewage system.
Urban experts say that it’s a wake up call for the government to rev up the decaying infrastructure of its cities if it wants to clock a high economic growth. “The government can take a cue from this and plan affectively to upgrade urban infrastructure,” said Srinivas Chary, director, Centre for Energy, Environment, Urban Governance and Infrastructure at the Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad.
Even in big states like Maharashtra, urban services are in a dilapidated condition. In Maharashtra, of 249 cities, only Navi Mumbai and Malkapur have continuous water supply. A majority do not have underground drainage system. Sewage treatment plants are present in only 19 ULBs.
In Karnataka, only 50% of 52 cities covered have access to sewerage system. In Andhra Pradesh, over 70% households in the 124 ULBs do not have access to piped water supply, while an equal number do not have any kind of sewerage system. In Madhya Pradesh, the average water supply coverage is just 46%.
“We have set up benchmarks for all the four services and directed ULBs to assess the services being delivered by them,” a UD ministry official said.