Water overflows in India’s Union Budget 2021

by Team Conscious Carma

Rs. 4.28 trillion (USD 57 billion) allocated for water issues for the next 5 years

  • The mission aims to supply water to 4,378 urban local bodies with 2.68 crores tap connections
  • Liquid waste management would be carried out across 500 AMRUT cities

Water supply got a boost in the Union Budget 2021 presented in Parliament by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. An outlay of Rs2.87 trillion towards the launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission Urban was announced in her budget speech. The next phase of the Swachh Bharat Mission focusing on the management of sludge, wastewater and construction and demolition waste in cities has also been announced.

The World Health Organization has repeatedly stressed the importance of clean water, sanitation, and a clean environment as a prerequisite to achieving universal health. The mission aims to supply water to 4,378 urban local bodies with 2.68 crore tap connections. Liquid waste management would be carried out across 500 AMRUT (the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) cities,” Sitharaman said. The scheme will be implemented over five years.

The Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), which was being implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, would get a second round. “For further cleanliness of urban India, we intend to focus on complete faecal sludge management and wastewater treatment, source segregation of garbage, reduction in single-use plastic, reduction in air pollution by effectively managing waste from construction-and-demolition activities and bio-remediation of all legacy dump sites,” she emphasized. The Swachh Bharat Mission(Urban)2.0 would be implemented over 5 years–2021 till 2026–with an outlay of Rs.1.41 trillion.


In July 2019, the government had formed a new ministry, Jal Sakti, to address all water issues in the country. The ministry also looks at the management of water resources and drinking water supply in a holistic manner.

The ministry was formed by integrating it with other existing ministries, such as water resources and the ministry of drinking water and sanitation. The larger aim is to work with state governments to ensure ‘Har Ghar Jal’ to all rural households by 2024. The announcement was made at a time when the country is grappling with one of the most severe water crisis that it has faced.


More than 3,500 cities are not supported by any structured scheme. So the government has decided to launch another scheme to cover 4,000 cities and towns for water supply. The proposal estimates JJM-Urban to target 26.8 million households which do not have tap connections and 26.4 million households without sewerage or septage facilities. The proposal would subsume AMRUT under JJM-Urban. The ongoing AMRUT programme focuses on 500 cities, mostly those with over 100,000 population, and aims to provide tap connections to 13.9 million households. The scheme has currently provided 9.5 million connections, roughly 75 per cent. While JJM (U) aims to saturate urban areas with tap connections, the remaining sewage connections outside of the AMRUT cities will be overseen by the Swachh Bharat Mission.

The proposed funding pattern for JJM (U) is to have the Centre provide 100 per cent funding in Union Territories without a legislature, 90 per cent in North Eastern and the other Himalayan States, 50 per cent in cities with a population below one lakh, 33 per cent in cities with a population between 0.1 and 1 million, and 25 per cent in cities with over a million people. “With ever-changing scenarios in the field of water, like improving technology, funding through external sources and availability of water through various sources like surface water, recycled wastewater, harvested rainwater etc. it is imperative to devise comprehensive water plans for every city… The water supply needs to be sustainable, equitable and should meet specified quality standards,” as per the proposal.

The Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the French Development Bank, and KfW, the German Development Bank, have shown interest to fund up to USD 200 million and USD 300 million, respectively. As per the 2011 Census, India’s urban population is roughly 377 million, of which 320 million people live in 4,041 statutory towns and204.8 million people have access to a piped water supply. At the household-level, 42.8 million households out of a total of 67.1 million in the statutory towns had access to a piped water supply. The proposal to the EFC estimates a total urban population of 440.3 million in statutory towns by 2025 (assuming a growth rate of 2.31 per cent), of which 331.9 million will have access to the piped water supply. Similarly, it estimates 92.4 million urban households in all statutory towns.


The Govt has recognized the importance of water and wastewater management for the social and economic development of the country. They also see the looming crisis if the issue is not addressed quickly. The issue also has sizeable political benefits, as the voting public attaches great value to availability of water and sanitation infrastructure. While the money has been put in, robust implementation would be needed to make it work. Previous initiatives like the Namame Gange project have not yielded the desired results.

Policy, technology, planning and project management needs to come together to achieve the stated goals. Rather than looking at the issue as an engineering problem, there is a need to involve civil society, to change mindsets and to address the issues at a mission-critical level. All right-minded individuals and corporates need to come together to ensure safe water and sanitation is available to all …

You may also like

Leave a Comment