Three basic necessities of life — tapped drinking water, electricity connection and sanitation — together are not available to 82% of rural Indian households, a government survey has revealed.
The three elements were key in the defining of India's new poverty line earlier this year by the Suresh Tendulkar committee, which said that 46% of rural Indians were poor.
The poverty line was based on National Sample Survey Organisation report of 2004-05, whereas the new data is from NSSO report of 2008-09 released recently.
The survey of over one lakh households on basic living standards in India also says that 20% of rural households don't have access to either of these facilities, just 2% more than a similar figure for urban India, where 67.5 % enjoy all three. For India, the figure was 33%.
Although the report says that access to these three facilities in rural areas had tripled since 1993, it revealed an increase in the rural urban divide since then. The coverage in urban areas increased by about 20% as compared to 12% in rural areas between 1993 and 2008-09, says the report.
Another discerning divide revealed was in the households, who have to travel considerable distance to fetch drinking water. Nearly 57% of households in rural India have to travel up to five km every day to fetch drinking water as compared to just 20% in urban areas.
"Considerable rural urban divergences are to found to exist in this respect," the NSSO report said.
Just 30% of households in rural India have access to tap drinking water as compared to 74% in urban areas.
As a result, majority of village households are dependant on tubewells or unprotected wells for drinking water.
There is one areas where there is no rural-urban disparity. That is separate rooms for married couples. Around 75% of couples in both rural and urban India have a separate room, the report said.