Drinking water Supply and Sanitation

Uttarakhand, with presence of mighty glaciers and perennial rivers, is a water rich state. Also, due to its topography, the state receives decent rainfall[1]. Ironically, while Uttarakhand serves the water demand of other states of northern India, the natives of Uttarakhand are facing a water crisis, especially pertaining to drinking water. Being a hilly state and possessing an uneven terrain, makes the situation more complicated in terms of water availability to the rural masses in remote areas. The non-availability of water directly has a bearing on the sanitation, leading to lack of hygienic practices being followed by the community. 

Historically, in rural India drinking water supply has been outside the governments’ sphere of influence. The Government of India’s effective role in the rural drinking water supply sector started in 1972, with the launch of Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP). Since then, in-spite of collective efforts of the State and Central Governments, coupled with huge investments of about Rs. 726 billion in the rural water supply sector under both, State and Central Plans up-to 2009 in India[2], merely 57% of the country’s rural population has access to adequate supply of safe drinking water. In 2009, the ARWSP was modified as the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) with major emphasis on ensuring sustainability of water availability adopting decentralized approach involving PRIs and community organizations. The 12th Five Year plan approach of focus on piped water supply, increasing household tap connections and raising drinking water supply norms from 40 lpcd to 55 lpcd will lead to the status of more than 90% habitations becoming Partially Covered (PC).


As per Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Govt. Of India, latrine coverage is only about one third of population. It is a matter of national shame that there are an estimated 626 million people in India defecating in the open and this constitutes nearly 60% of those practising open defecation in the entire world. Hand washing is also very low, leading to spread of disease. As far as water supply is concern, only 71% habitations with 100% Population Coverage (37% with piped water supply) could have been achieved.


The scenario is far worse in Uttarakhand, which consist of sparsely populated clusters. Rudimentary infrastructure for the provision of safe drinking water is still absent in many parts of the hilly regions. In places where services have been provided, the beneficiary communities do not pay for inadequate / sub-standard services, resulting in service utilities becoming financially unsustainable. In recent past, Uttarakhand has suffered severe environmental degradation. Consequently, the residents of the state have found it increasingly difficult to gather the basic resources for daily subsistence. This has led to heavy out–migration, particularly of able-bodied males. The reduced availability of labour in the family has increased the daily workload of women. Women have to increasingly spend more and more time approximately 3-4 hours daily to fetch water from greater distance. Scarcity of drinking water is on the rise with steady decline of water sources in the central and western Himalayan region. Overall, house hold latrine coverage is around 54% and drinking water by 52%[3]. Tata Trusts through Himmotthan and its partners in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh

[1] “The annual rainfall of Uttarakhand has been assessed around 1,700 mm/year from active monsoon of 100 days. The annual average volume of water received from rainfall comes out to be 9.52 Billion Cubic Metres. Of this, 17.5% is lost through evaporation, 29.5% as absorption in soil, 15.5% infiltration as ground water and 37.5% flows into rivers. According to Uttarakhand’s State Water Policy, only 3% of annual rainfall will suffice to meet the total water needs for all purpose”. Uttarakhand State Report; 2006; Chapter -10.

[2]Department of Drinking Water Supply; Ministry of Rural Development, GoI; Report; 2009

[3]Census report GoI 2011 report

Himmotthan Head Office

193, Vasant Vihar, Phase-2

Behind Shri Guru Ram Rai Public School


Uttarakhand, India - 248006

Contact Number : (0135)- 2760728, 2761796

Himmotthan WATSAN Office

41, Vasant Vihar, Phase-2


Uttarakhand, India - 248006

Contact Number : (0135)- 2762966

Himmotthan Regional Offices
1. Kumaun Region-Almora

(Mohalla Talla Galli, Jakhan Devi, Almora, Uttarakhand India, 263609)

2. Garhwal Region Office- Chamoli

Near Petrol Pump, Gopeshwar,District Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India

3. Garhwal Region Office- Jadipani

Gram Saud, Jadipani, Chamba Block, District Tehri Garhwal, Uttarakhand, India

4. Himmotthan Society/Tata Trusts PMU Leh

C/o Advocate Otsal Wangdus near Postal Colony
Housing Colony Leh - 194101 (Ladakh), India
Tel: 01982-253553

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