This is being termed as a milestone development. However,
can we really be happy about these achievements? India, as the report says, has
made headway in reducing poverty and with regard to providing drinking water
access to much of its people. However, it is still far away from improving
sanitation coverage and other important aspects like food security, maternal
mortality and gender equity.
the targets, as claimed by the report, have been met. However, in a
country like India we just can’t claim comfort about the improvement in
drinking water access without addressing other key issues such as the
above. In fact, only access to drinking water will never be able to
ensure sanitation coverage. Further there is no assessment of the
qualitative coverage of drinking water and that of sanitation as well.
And the report in no way takes into account the reduced availability of
water resource as a whole.
there is a need for a serious debate on the MDGs afresh taking into
consideration factors that will make India (and for that matter other
poor countries) miss the targets by 2015.
must look into the ways we are urbanizing at the moment, which has been
very arrogant, abusive and unsustainable. We have already charted a
path for numerous and fierce battles between urban areas and rural areas
to have control over the limited and reducing water resources. And, in
the way, as the access to water will be increasingly linked to the
capacity to pay, the battles will go fiercer. This is because the urban
population will have a much faster and higher growth of their income
compared to their rural counterparts.
example Delhi which is already planning to displace people and destroy
pristine ecology in the North East to meet its greedy water needs.
Delhi has cash, North East has ecological resource. And there are
hundreds of such examples of various scales depending on the size of the
increase in access of water for the urban habitations, including the
slums, would continue to keep us under the false impression of
'increased coverage' of the targets. There would be hardly any
statistics available on the amount of people (in the rural areas) who
would be deprived of their water resources to provide water to their
urban counterparts. Also, there would hardly be any data available on
the negative impacts of this access of water on the ecology of the areas
from where the water will be sourced. This means there will be no ways
at our hands to assess the factors that will make the so called 'access'
don't think there is hardly anything to cheer about the global
achievement figures that have been put up by the MDG 2012 report. To
meet the MDG targets on water and sanitation, we need to have source
sustainability and recharging at each locality including the urban
habitations. We have to free the rivers and other surface water bodies
from all forms of encroachment (including that of pollution) both in
rural and urban areas. We have to see that no urban area is allowed to
take water from the rural areas and ecology simply because it has the
money to pay for it.
Local sustainability of sources can only achieve global goals.
[Ranjan Panda works on
Environmental and other Developmental issues. He leads 'Water
Initiatives Odisha' (WIO).]