In India, 7% of the population, or 9.1 crore people, are without basic water supply, as per a 2019 joint report by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. Despite a 14 percentage point jump in basic access to water supply over 17 years to 2017, nearly 60 crore Indians face “high to extreme water stress”.
As the Centre readies the annual Budget, expected to focus on reviving India’s pandemic-hit economy, experts emphasise the need to ensure basic access to water and sanitation. The water budget is even more crucial this year – access to clean water, handwashing and sanitation is vital to control the spread of Covid-19, but is a key challenge for India, as IndiaSpend reported in June 2020. The pandemic has claimed more than 1,53,000 lives in India so far.