43 Percent of Kashmiri Schools Receive Unsafe Water

Feb 7th, 2013 | Category: Kashmir News

Over 40 percent of schools and 30 percent of the villages in Indian-administered Kashmir rely on unsafe drinking water, according to a new study.

The study, which was carried out by the National Level Monitoring Agency, under India’s rural development ministry, found that 60 percent of village residents do not get sufficient potable water in their homes and only 21 percent get good quality drinking water at all.

The monitoring agency visited 12 of the state’s 22 districts to cover 120 villages, including those in the capital city, Srinagar.

During April-May 2012, around 390 schools and 376 aganwadi centers (government-sponsored childcare centers) in these districts were also assessed under the National Rural Drinking Water Program.

According to the study, 43.3 percent of schools are being supplied with contaminated water, which threatens the health of the children.

The study found that in 12 districts, only one-fifth (21 percent) of villagers were getting quality drinking water.

The districts covered included Anantnag, Kupwara,Srinagar, Budgam, Baramulla, Pulwama, Kargil, Leh, Doda, Rajouri, Poonch and Kathua. A sample of 10 villages was chosen for the study from every district.

More than half of the villages (60 percent) lacked sufficient water supply, the study found.

During their visit to the daycare centers, officials found that only 25 percent of them had access to safe drinking water.

The centrally located Budgam district fared worst — all of its 21 schools and 21 aganwadi centers were found to have contaminated drinking water.

The study also revealed the absence of any mechanism to test water quality in a large majority of villages. “Water treatment facilities exist in only 5 percent of villages visited by NLM,” it said.

It criticized the government’s approach of providing untreated water from rivers and lakes in order to fulfill aim of National Rural Drinking Program (NRDP).

“The scheme aims to achieve universal access of rural population to safe and sustainable drinking water facilities rather than a mere coverage of habitations,” according to the study.

The federally sponsored NRDP was launched in 2009, with the goal of providing financial and technical assistance to states for implementing clean drinking water supply programs.

Sham Lal Sharma, Jammu & Kashmir’s minister for public health engineering, told the Hindustan Times newspaper: “It is a fact that our schools and villages don’t have access to safe drinking water. Moreover, there is a large chunk of schools and villages where water connectivity has not reached.”

The government claims that its target is to ensure all villages get quality round-the-clock water supply. Jammu & Kashmir has a population of around 13 million and number of habitations have yet to be connected to clean piped water systems.

Kashmiri civil society groups have been critical of the government for its inability to provide safe drinking water to every citizen.

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