The latest report on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) says that in South Asia 87% of total population had access to safe drinking water in 2006. Another source (UNICEF Report) confirms that nearly 89% of the people in India have access to improved drinking water resources. This symbolizes a good change in the percentage of people with access to safe drinking water in India than earlier decades.
As a reminder to all, MDGs are internationally accepted eight goals which need to be achieved by 2015. The eight goals are as follows:
- Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
- Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
- Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
- Goal 5: Improve maternal health
- Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
- Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
Further, each of these goals have some specific targets and indicators. Here I would like to concentrate on Goal 7 which speaks of environmental sustainability. It reaffirms that all government policies and development programmes should be in tune with this goal i.e. ensuring a sustainable environment for the world. One of the targets of this goal is to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
Evidently India is doing well in providing access to improved drinking water resources to its people. But the difference between ‘improved’ and ‘safe’ remains unknown. Even today there are villages in several states of India that depend on an unsafe drinking water sources leading to the spread of harmful diseases among the rural population. At the same time, a large number of villages do not have a single drinking water resource within 3-4 km
There has always been a difference between policies and practice, reality and calculation. It is therefore, the vital responsibility of the common people to find out the truth and ask for your rights. To have access to safe drinking water is your right and mine. It is but a basic human right.