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Eaux, pauvreté et crises sociales

Habib Ayeb
Thierry Ruf

Atelier 2. Dynamiques de la représentation selon les contextes hydropolitiques

Enabling Poor through Institutional Alternatives to Access Drinking Water Supplies in Rural India

A Field Review of Some Best Practices

K. V. Raju et S. Manasi

Texte intégral


1Rural water supply is one of the major challenges that has been addressed by the Indian government and attempts made towards tackling the crisis in providing safe and adequate water to the rural people. Lately, the problem has become particularly severe in rural areas. A review of the government’s efforts in implementing various programmes, policies adopted has shown inadequate progress in providing sufficient quantity of potable water to all persons (Rajshekar and Veerashekarappa, 2003, Raju et al, 2004). Several factors like increased urbanization leading to negligence of traditional water sources, lack of water management, resource depletion due to overexploitation of existing resources, ineffective co-ordination between departments and inadequate institutional setup in addressing the problem have led to the severity of the problem over the years.

  • 1 Note de l’éditeur : PRI : panchayati raji Institutions.

2It has been internationally accepted that rural water supply and sanitation services are managed more efficiently at the lowest appropriate level and has to be strengthened for sustainability of the program. However, the understanding with respect to the degree of the most appropriate level is still being experimented. With the shift in approach where the government acts as a facilitator and not a provider, the role and functions in implementing water supply schemes are streamlined from the Central, State, PRIs1 and village level and focus has been to involve community intensively.

  • Community participation: the idea has been to promote demand-driven approach by empowering villagers to ensure their full participation in the project at every stage and decision making on the design and management arrangement.
  • Community facilitation: role of the state, district and village level has been to facilitate community in scheme selection and effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure high quality of construction and sustainability of investments and also ensure co-ordination of project components at the village and district level.
  • Community contribution: focus has been to involve the beneficiaries to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility through capital cost sharing and operation and maintenance.
  • Community awareness: community awareness on water resources and management of water through conservation.
  • Capacity building: capacity building of the beneficiaries and make them self sufficient in managing the made-available systems so that they do not depend on external help.
  • 2 The current decentralization efforts in India originate from an evaluation of Community Developmen (...)

3In this context, streamlining of roles at the local level has been different in different states. The situation in the Indian context is between the Gram Panchayat (Village Council) and Village Water Supply and Sanitation Committee (VWSC)2. The usual practice in many villages has been that VWCS’s are co-existing with GP’s and sometimes as sub-committees and also independent institutions. Few studies conducted reflect opinions on the functioning of the systems at the village level. Jal manthan meeting (a travel forum that aims to be network for informal policy level dialogue between sector practitioners and professionals) – Comparative advantages of two institutions i.e. Gram Panchayat and Village water supply and sanitation committee was taken up. The results of an exercise conducted to compare the performances of VWSCs and GPs, the main activities on capacity building, planning, implementation, operation and maintenance and monitoring were probed. It was difficult to draw definitive conclusions on perfect institutional models. VWSC has been efficient in planning and implementation process while the GP’s had excelled in accessing engineering skills in post implementation stages. There was no specific model that could be termed as the best one rather adopting a ‘situational approach’ was considered as the best option (Water and Sanitation Program, 1999).

4Though several programs were implemented over the years, its organizational structure and implementation arrangements were different across the different programs (Rajshekar and Veerashekarappa, 2003). The World Bank programs created village level organizations under their programs while local elected bodies represented the line departments at various levels. The organizations were assigned functions and were provided assets to undertake the functions. The study examined the functions, assets, processes, and development outcomes of the local organizations. Experiences, progress, problems and lessons learnt shared by representatives of 10 World Bank supported projects on RWS in Asia. It was observed that although the objectives and components of these projects were same, the project design adopted was different with respect to technical designs, procurement procedures, cost-sharing arrangements, site selection criteria, disbursement methods and community-training methodologies.

5Institutional aspects are highlighted in several studies. e.g, Saleth (1996) highlights one institutional option open to us which is the establishment and administration of a water rights system. Under this system, water quotas are legally established as part of water rights system so as to limit both individual and collective water withdrawals from both surface and subsurface sources. The durable approach for addressing this supply gap of water and its attendant use/user conflicts lies not in creating additional potential but in promoting the use efficiency and conservation of the already developed water resource potential. Obviously, this approach requires fundamental changes in current institutions (water policy, water law and water administration) governing water resource development, distribution and use. As long as ground water continues to be a common property, or open access resource and surface water a public good, it is not at all possible to create the individual and collective economic incentives which are feasible only under a private and transferable property rights system where the availability of water at the individual and collective levels are quantitatively limited.

6Although the focus has been to evolve the most effective and sustainable institution at village level for delivery of RWS services, there is a complex relationship between two village-level organizations and it may not be an ‘either-or’ situation but rather a ‘both’. In this backdrop, the experiences of the success stories throw light upon the intricacies in the process observed, possibly overlooked by the government schemes.

Four success stories

The Yanegudde experience

7Yanegudde with 70 houses is a coastal village of Katapadi Grama Panchayat of Udupi district in Karanataka. It had faced severe scarcity problems owing to saline water sources and unsafe for drinking and usage. Scarcity was severe during the summer with the salinity levels going high. People had to walk between 1 to 1.5 kms to fetch water depending on the location of their households. During the year 2000, the village was connected with piped water supplies (PWS) and has made all the difference to the people in terms of availability and accessibility to clean and sufficient water. The PWS is totally the effort and involvement of the people with the right leadership of developing an institutional set-up for sustainable and effective implementation.


8Initiative of the local minister. People in this village have sufficient access to drinking water and much more to meet their daily requirements, which resulted out of a combined effort by the then State Cabinet Minister of Fisheries Mr. Vasanth Salian, Malnad Development Authority and the philanthropic attitude of Mr. Devdas Alwa who donated the land. “Sampath Multi-purpose Co-operative Society’ was thus formed making people from every household as members. The objective of the society was to spread its activities to various sectors (like marketing fish, agricultural produce etc) apart from bringing about effective water supply. Thus, a planned and joint effort resulted in the installation of a pipeline from the open well from where people used to collect water. It was considered important to involve all the households in managing the system. So informing and involving people at every stage was focused upon meticulously resulting in awareness about the functioning of the society, its roles and functions.

9Members of the society had agreed to contribute and the minimum contribution was fixed at Rs. 2,500 irrespective of the economic background. All households paid the money. However, some economically better households contributed more. An overhead tank of 50,000 litres capacity was built by digging an open well, 7.5 h.p pumpset is fixed to pump water to the overhead tank. Another unique feature was providing pipeline connection to seven households, which were alienated from the village by a river indicating their meticulous efforts.

10The society has appointed the water fee collector based on volumetric basis, for which the society has installed water meters to all households. Owing to defunct meters, households have ended up paying water fee of Rs. 60/month/household. Though, meters were installed in all houses, due to frequent floods during the rainy seasons, the meters were rusted. Repairs are currently being carried out. Delay in payments is acceptable up to 3 months and after that a warning notice (printed format) is issued to the defaulter reminding him to pay failing which the water supply will be cut.

11The governing body of the society looks into the details of the functioning of the system and meets every month. All members attend the annual meeting where the accounts are explained to the people and future plans are discussed and suggestions are welcome. Members vouch for the transparency and accountability in funds collection and expenditure. The formats used are simple and are understandable by a common person. Future plans of developing other dimensions towards development of fisheries or other income fetching ventures are discussed in the meetings. Gram Panchayat, Taluk Panchayat and Zilla Panchayat (District Council) have no role to play in water supply in this village as it is was executed and maintained by the society on its own.


  • Waterman is in charge of supplying water to 3 different segments of the village using the valve system. Water is supplied for 45 minutes between 6.30 to 9.30 a.m every day to all 70 houses.
  • Houses (25) have built a sump and placed a plastic overhead tank (500 litres capacity) with 1 h.p. pump.
  • Waterman is also in charge of collecting bills.
  • Rules are clear on payment schedule and penalties.
  • Households are not expected to waste water and will be fined if deviant.
  • To take care of motor burning and/or repairs, an additional pumpset was purchased by the society.

13Positive impacts: a) water is supplied adequately and timings are maintained and people are highly satisfied; b) LPCD (litres per capita daily) among the sample households indicated that 17 out of 20 households accessed more than 70 lpcd and the rest between 40 to 70 lpcd; c) unique achievement has been to lay a pipeline under water to reach the households separated from the other households on the other bank of the river. These 7 households also are connected with PWS with household connection; d) people are aware about the whole process. Everybody in the village is clear about the functioning of the system. They have absolutely no complaints about the society formed. Everybody follow rules and there has been no problem. If there are defaulters, others immediately object and complain to the authorities who warn the respective households immediately, which is uncommon; e) users are totally aware of their roles and responsibilities. Users have been involved right from the beginning of the plan and are aware of the whole process. They attend the meetings regularly.

The Zaadshapur experience

14Zaadshapur village is comfortable with water supply levels and accessibility. Source and quality were not a problem either. Mainly owing to efficient implementation by the Zilla Panchayat (ZP), good management by Gram Panchayat (GP) and co-operation by the people, water resources have been managed efficiently. ZP’s co-ordination with the Lion’s Club implemented the Accelerated Rural Water Supply scheme by involving local people at every stage. With completion, GP has taken over the operation and maintenance and is managing effectively. The GP conducts Grama sabhas regularly (once in 6 months), repairs are followed up immediately, regular water supply (total of 4 hours, 2 in morning and 2 in evening). The gram panchayat secretary and the president are approachable to follow up on any matter. It is interesting that people are also involved, are aware about the schemes, co-operative with respect to paying water charges (except for 10-15 households who delay), no wastage and misuse is reported.

15Zaadshapur village with 176 houses in Desur Gram Panchayat belongs to Belgaum district of Karnataka. Earlier, groundwater was extracted from open well at 15 feet depth. After introduction of piped water supply (PWS), people get water largely from public standposts and at times from the borewells.


16Problem-free village yet people are co-operative and involved:

  • The village has one open well which was the main source of water supply for the whole village. There was sufficient water except during summer and people would go to fetch water from private open wells situated few meters away. The water supply was upgraded with the introduction of BWHP, MWS followed by PWS at different points of time.
  • Majority of the households are willing to pay between Rs. 50-100/month, although they do not have household connection.
  • People are keen on adopting alternative strategies like roof water harvesting, if initiated, 85 percent were not willing to spend. They were willing to co-operate if the GP would spend for the same, but were willing to contribute in terms of labour.
  • Lions Club involvement was crucial in creating awareness. Willingness to pay is high in this village, factors for good co-operation may be attributed to the initiatives taken by the Lions Club and also the small size of the village where it is much easier to congregate and discuss issues. Apart from the above, water supply has never been a problem and upgradation meant more convenience, which was welcome.
  • However, the usage was around 55 lpcd. A few did not require even 40 lpcd. People in this village (10 households) were not keen on bathing everyday although they had access to plenty of water. People expressed that they were used to having bath twice in a week and did not feel the need to bathe everyday.
  • People are willing to pay more and co-operate if there is a need to increase the charges. People were very involved and personally took turns to supervise the construction of the overhead tank. They perceived that it is for their own benefit and feel very responsible towards the resources of the village.

17Simplified management: there is one waterman in the village and is paid a salary of Rs. 1,000. There are 3 hand pumps which are in use. Hand pumps are placed in 3 different streets. There is one MWS tank in the village and placed conveniently. Water is let every day for 4 hours in all the street taps. There is one PWS in the village connected to a borewell with a depth of 200 feet. The capacity of the tank is 50,000 liters and a 5 H.P motor is installed. Water is filled once in 2 days into the tank and requires 9 hours to fill the water. Water is pumped through a borewell into the overhead tank and let twice in a day for two hours through the public stand posts. The stand posts are placed in 4 streets. Each stand post has 2 taps fixed to it. The stand posts are well placed at the center of the street, as it is apt in terms of fairness and convenience. People are able to access as per their requirement. There are no household connections. 92 households have signed an application requesting for household connection and have agreed to pay Rs. 300 deposit and Rs. 20/month. The process is on for the same. Water overflow from the overhead tank is directed into the open well situated beside the tank to avoid wastage.

18Good co-ordination: Grama Sabhas are conducted regularly with prior information and 70 percent of the people attend it. Women are more vocal and attend GS’s, women mostly ask for loans and other problems, as they do not face any water problem. People pay the water charges regularly. GP maintains the accounts in accuracy. As mentioned earlier, the involvement during the construction of the overhead tank indicated a strong sense of ownership. Although the village does not face any scarcity problem, they are aware about the depletion of ground water and are keen to adapt to alternatives and conserve water if initiated. They are aware about the scarcity problems faced in other neighboring villages. None of the households in this village have household connections. GP is in the process of planning to provide household connections after fixing the deposits and monthly water charges. GP is incharge of repairs and maintenance of water supply. GP has no problems in this regard. GP is collecting water tariff as a part of property tax and has adopted a different methodology to charge. For example: if the house tax of a particular household is fixed at Rs. 100, the water charges would be fifty percent of the same, which comes to Rs. 50 annually. A total of Rs. 150 will be charged to the household annually. This was an age-old method followed and presently the GP has received orders to charge Rs. 120 per annum as water charge, which will be adopted by the GP soon. The GP is yet to inform the people about the change. All the households in the village are supposed to pay Rs. 120 while the households with in-house connection will have to pay more, which is not yet finalized.

19People in this village have always abided by the rules and have been responsible in managing their resources. GP had no problems in dealing with the people of the village so far and the people have no complaints about the GP managing water supply. 70 percent of the households attended gram sabha while only 30 percent have not attended. As the village has no problem with respect to water supply, the issue discussed has mostly been with respect to procuring household connections, deposits to be paid and monthly charges. Both men and women attend gram sabha in this village and gram sabha is held regularly. Gram sabha is held initially at the village where the gram panchayat is situated and on the same day it is held in this village in the evening highlighting co-ordination of timings. In short, there is good co-ordination and cooperation amongst the people and the GP in this village.

Huligaaru village: a unique effort towards water conservation

20Huligaaru village case interestingly has achieved remarkable goals within a very short span. This village carries forward simple but effective measures practiced practically among the village folk. Largely, the success could be pointed at the triggering efforts of collective action in highlighting Huligaaru as a model village, backed by education, awareness levels and culture of the people.

21Huligaaru village with 125 houses belongs to Kandika gram panchayat in Sagar Taluk, Shimoga district of Karnataka. Majority of the households belongs to upper caste. 41 per cent are school educated. Water source and quality have never been a problem, except during the summer where a few open wells would go dry (6 on an average) and water levels would go down in few others. Households having cattle use approximately 1,000 litres of water while households without cattle use 300 litres per day. Average lpcd ranges from 135 to 150 lpcd per day. Laborers use around 70–80 lpcd and the reasons could be due to their practices, they do not swap their houses everyday.


22High awareness levels, people’s positive attitude and culture of cleanliness: people are generally well aware about various factors happening around with respect to the water situation. This could be attributed to the education levels where people are systematic, organized and adopt a planned approach while addressing issues. Various instances indicate focus on their systematic efforts on conducting regular meetings, maintenance of records, documentation of news paper clippings and similar ones during the explanation of various measures undertaken. People are basically enthusiastic and are open to new ideas. They have mutually agreed to look at any issue in a positive attitude and solve the differences. Irrespective of the differences they feel it is important to get together and solve problems while undertaking development activities.

23People in this village generally worked hard and kept themselves busy throughout the day. Although the activities pertaining to the main crop areca nut determine their timings and seasonal pressures, people are generally engaged in keeping the surroundings clean and tidy. Irrespective of size, class and caste of people, the households in the village seem to have a culture of cleanliness.

24Peoples’ co-operation: people in general are very co-operative and work in cohesiveness. As majorities of the people are having a positive attitude, convincing the few others who are not keen seems less difficult. Tackling indifferences by writing in a slip of paper as a rule seems to be an appealing approach, as opined by one of the members, most of the negative criticisms get filtered by the time they write. Treating the lower caste and the poor with care and respect has been a culture in this village. These have helped them to live well with the lower strata of people and seek their cooperation.

25People’s interaction: interaction during various meetings, which are regularly held on schedule, provides a platform for positive interaction of ideas promoting developmental activities. It also provides motivation and interest among other people as they observe the success of similar groups and spread effect to take up new activities. For instance, due to their co-operative attitude, one of the enterprising women took up a contract of peeling areca nuts supplied from other villages. This provided employment to the local people during their free time and added to their income levels apart from providing a small enterprise to her. As a resultant effect of this, huge piles of areca nut husk were getting collected. These interested women attended the training on using husk to make briquettes to be used as firewood and the project is underway.

26Promoting organic farming: as people are associated with Krishi Prayoga Pariwara (an NGO), they have understood the importance of organic farming and have adopted various practices promoted by the organization. The spread effect seems to be faster with respect to adopting vermi composting, using less pesticides etc. Their vision of changing gradually (by the end of the year) to adapt to complete organic farming was interesting. Awareness levels with respect to the do’s and don’ts of every aspect were clear among majority of the people.

27Strategy adopted by the motivator: Krishi Prayoga Pariwara is an organization working on promoting various agricultural practices that are good to the farmers. One of the persons in the village was a member of KPP since ten years. It was Guruji’s wish to convert one village in every taluk into a model village. The idea was presented in front of the village folk and everyone agreed to it.

  • The first step was to focus on water conservation. Mr. Anand who was the key initiator and organizer of the programme explained to the crowd the importance and need for water harvesting and conservation.
  • The second step was to understand the basic details of the village and collecting information covering various aspects. A questionnaire was formulated and details were collected from every household in the village.
  • Information was collected from the households using the questionnaire by involving 16 people forming a group of 4.
  • Twelve people joined together and sorted the data and made a compiled report.

28Conducive strategies adopted: the section on strategies defines in detail the ways adopted in convincing people (through a religious guru in the local region), creating awareness initiatives, regular follow-up, meetings with focus, simple and cost-effective methods, planning, implementation which have acted as key factors for such effective results in a short period of time. Long-term planning and vision are clear among the people. This long-term vision helps the people in understanding what they need to focus on and develops further additions and initiatives. The details of their future plans have been dealt in a separate section above. Planning fine details has helped them to implement the activities in an effective way.

29Data collection, report writing and documentation: the data collected has been well planned, documented and reported in a systematic way. The compiled report is presented during the meetings, which helps the people in the village to understand the purpose of the survey. The monthly progress and effects of the steps undertaken are a great and positive effort to motivate the people and make them understand where they stand and thus spread further positive actions and spread effects. Documentation adopted by the self-help groups is planned and focused.

30People painstakingly maintained accountability and transparency in detail and documented it. This was explained to everyone and any one could have access to it. This they believed curtailed differences. Added to the above, good understanding amongst the core members and their sense of motivation were strong. The discussions would go on in a very positive and planned way focusing on progress and development at every stage and every meeting. Majority of the people in the village were interested in progress and were less political. When the issue was development for common good, everyone joined hands irrespective of the party they belonged to.

31Water management practices: simple but effective measures (like roof water harvesting in most of the households, digging pits to store water in common areas, harvesting and directing rainwater to specific ponds to improve groundwater table) were undertaken in a co-coordinated way with respect to awareness and action. As the initiator rightly opines, ‘digging the pits is not difficult but to make people dig these simple pits is the challenge’.

32Follo-up activities: follow-up on various activities has been a challenge in most of the developmental activities which dies out as the motivator or the intervening organization withdraws leading to non sustainability of the programmes. The foundation for sustainability seems to be laid out in an effective way as focus has been multi-dimensional addressing various factors like awareness creation, cost-effective measures, persuading involvement, group efforts – all done simultaneously with stress on follow-up of every activity.

33Funds mobilization: simple ways of pooling money and resources with transparency and accountability have helped in reducing burden on single individuals and need for donors remains unnecessary. However, for major programmes donors have come forward to pool in. With the above-mentioned strategies, efforts towards decentralized institutions in the form of groups at various levels and activities under the AJA have proved to have worked in an effective way in a very short term of two and a half months.

34Women’s active involvement: women were generally very involved and active and keenly participated in every activity. Women’s enthusiastic efforts in various dimensions have led to multiplier effect in helping them to start new ventures. Although they started their work in a small way, ideas given by a local religious guru in promoting their products motivated them to expand their business. Their plans to expand their work and business are shaped during the regularly held meetings. Women are basically interested in learning and doing new things. They are keen on attending training programmes that would bring in more income and also development to the village as a whole. Women were very excited that their effort were being praised and was adding on their motivation further.

35Women are very hospitable, a culture of the village as mentioned by everyone in the village. The culture has added on to the attitude in working together in a cohesive way. Women humbly opined that the men have been co-operative. Otherwise, it would be hard for them to attend the meetings and be involved in various activities. However, they also opined that they do not neglect the household activities but plan it well. There are no inhibitions in expressing their views during the meetings, which was a remarking feature.

36It was appealing to watch the gardens wholly managed by the women folk. Their love for plants was seen as the plants flourished with flowers and vegetables. They maintained the gardens very well amidst their daily routine. Vegetables grown would meet the household requirements while the flowers added to the beauty. When questioned, their answer was simple, gardening made them feel nice.

37Keen to learn: people in this village are comparatively better off economically. They do not face serious unemployment and crop failure problems unlike other villages which is an added advantage. Educational levels are high comparatively and culture of the people also adds on to the attitude and thereby progress. The village is small in terms of households and easy to communicate and bring about positive development. The population is very less which is another positive factor. Five self-help groups belonging to both men, women and youth are active in the village and meet regularly which is one of the strengths of this village, which promotes collective action and group efforts.

Hosangadi experience

38Hosangadi village has introduced meters to households who have obtained household connection through the PWS scheme and are charged accordingly. People faced scarcity during summer and had to walk long distances to collect water. With the introduction of piped water supply under the Sector Reforms Programme, the Village Water Supply and Sanitation Committee formulated this idea to bring about accountability and efficiency in the service. With accessibility to water within households made it convenient to the people, charging for the service has made the scheme sustainable.

39Hosangadi village is situated in Dakshina Kannada district at a distance of 20 kms from Belathangadi taluk. The village has 625 households. The houses in this village are settled in clusters, while some remain as scattered individual houses. The cluster households are all placed together mainly because they have been given government land where they have built houses. There are 2 clusters situated in different places at a distance of 1 km between these clusters. The people residing in clusters mostly are labourers, while very few are petty businessmen or employees. The households situated independently are landowners having many acres of land and practicing agriculture. People of different caste groups live in this village – Jains, Shetty’s, Poojaris, Gowdas, Muslims, SC’s and ST’s.

40Situation in the past revealed that water was mainly drawn from open wells. While the rich had their own open wells, the poor had common wells. During summer, as the water table would deplete, people would go from one open well to another in search of water which would be situated at around 2-5 kms distance. Later, Borewell with hand pump (BWHP) was introduced followed by Mini Water Supply (MWS) and Piped Water Supply (PWS). Even to this day, water supply is no problem in this village except during summer as majority of the open wells goes dry. People access water from BWHP, MWS and Piped water supply. There are 2 BWHP which are working and people, use this water for drinking purpose, There is 1 MWS with 2 cisterns which is also used for drinking purpose. There are 2 PWS schemes. People have obtained individual house connections in 130 houses.


41Metered connections and costs – a remarkable headway: as the houses in this village are partly scattered and some closely-knit, households belonging to these clusters were addressed in understanding water supply. Water charges are based on meter readings unlike many other villages where meters are fixed but charged on flat charge. The total installation cost for one household was Rs. 700. The beneficiaries were involved in laying the pipelines, trench and other labour work, as they could not bear the total cost. Each household contributed Rs. 300 in terms of rupees and Rs. 400 through labour. Water is supplied for 2 hours in a day (morning and evening). Sometimes, it is let for more time, on average water is let for 3 hours. As the land is uneven, accessibility of water varies depending on the location of the households. Plans are under progress to improvise the situation by placing control valves.

42Strong institutional backing proves sustainability successful: VWSC has been formed as per the guidelines of Sector Reforms Programme. The village has adopted the metering system. The meter reading started after all the beneficiaries were given household connection. It required more time because the households are scattered and laying pipes in undulated land was difficult.

  • Household connections are given to households that can be easily accessed in terms of distance.
  • Meters are placed at the entry point to the house and not in private lands to avoid misuse of water.
  • One of the hurdles is with regard to pressure as the land is uneven, and hence takes time to reach households situated at the upper reach

43Financial discipline: the bill collector issues bills to individuals to households based on meter reading every month. The minimum charges are fixed at Rs. 40 upto 8,000 litres and ‘ a paisa per litre, which adds up to Rs. 5/1,000 litres. Each household paid a sum of Rs. 1,000 as initial deposit and to make a fair deal, Rs. 100 extra will be added every year as and when new connections are taken (Rs. 1,000 in the first year, Rs. 1,100 in the second year and so on). Penalty of Rs. 10 is the minimum fixed and 10 percent of the total amount – whichever is higher is charged. The committee plans to charge for public taps at Rs. 20/month. This is difficult for the VWSC to implement because these public taps were installed during the previous schemes (NRWS). Old connections (public) already exist and will lead to controversy.

44Reserve funds are being considered to meet the sudden expenditures like burning of motors, breaking of major pipelines etc. So far, the committee has generated Rs. 40,000 as reserve fund. This was saved from beneficiaries’ contribution under RGDWM scheme. Operation and maintenance charges are not sufficient to meet consecutive expenditure in the future. Water fee collector is paid Rs. 2,000/month, water man is paid Rs. 900/month. It requires 4 person days for reading meters and collecting water fee.

45Beneficiaries: there are two colonies – Janatha colony and Ashraya colony. 5 cents of land were given to needy people by the government where 50 houses are located while 30 houses are in Ashraya colony. Majorities of them belong to the middle class and the lower middle class. Open wells cannot be dug in this area because there is no place. Household connections are useful to these people. The other houses in the village are scattered and have their own open well. Only 30 percent to 40 percent population require this water. Landlords make their own arrangements. People are WTP as per the meter charges and have understood that water is not a social good but economic good if service has to be provided.

46Sub-groups for effective monitoring: the committee has formulated sub-groups, for which 10 members have been identified among the beneficiaries and group leaders are also identified. The group leader is in charge of managing his group. His responsibilities include: a) avoid wastage of water; b) see that meters are working properly; c) see that meters are not misused; d) collect water charges. The group leader will be made the Committee member. This system is in planning stage and the objective is to make the beneficiaries more responsible and for easy administration. This method is not mentioned in the guidelines and is an innovative idea.

47Role clarity: there is confusion in planning between VWSC and GP. ZP officials have mentioned to the GP that if VWSC fails, everything will become GP’s responsbility. This means to say that they themselves are not confident about VWSC’s working. Interlink between GP members and VWSC members are less, so there was real confusion in understanding roles and responsibilities. Although there was no intervention made by the NGO as per the IEC a component of the SRP programme, village has thrived ahead with respect to awareness levels.

Key interventions and commonalities

48It is important to address some of the common features practiced and observed in these four villages. This would help in grasping key aspects from their approaches and experiences.

Some lessons

  • Setting up strong institutions by involving people at every stage was common across all villages. Involvement enabled better awareness of the situation.
  • Irrespective of the type (GP, VWSC or Local initiatives), all had strong leaders to motivate and organize. However, the leaders worked towards setting up institutions and were not leader-oriented which highlights sustainability.
  • Initiatives and approaches varied between villages but all worked towards strengthening institutions by laying acceptable rational rules and conducted regular meetings giving voice to majority of the people.
  • Transparency and Accountability at every stage made it simpler and easier to manage. Documentation was done meticulously and available for anyone to witness.
  • Water conservation was not the focus in all the villages but as the institutional set up was strong, it made it easier to add on other dimensions.
  • Bring about a change in the mindset of the people in accepting water as a priced good in place of social good and a non-renewable resource was attempted largely in all the villages. Highlighting on avoiding wastage added on to the positives.



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1 Note de l’éditeur : PRI : panchayati raji Institutions.

2 The current decentralization efforts in India originate from an evaluation of Community Development and National Extension Programs in early-1950s. These programs aimed at assisting the people's own efforts to develop their communities with government fund, through establishing facilities for improved agricultural production and delivery systems of agricultural and social services. Recognizing the need for village-level institutions that represent local communities in these development processes, an evaluation committee of the two programs recommended to introduce the panchayat system (panchayati raj) at zilla (district), block and gram (village) levels during the late-1950s to early-1960s. Yet, the panchayat institutions remained largely under the government control, without financial capacity nor effective representation mechanism. It was not until 1992 that the three-tier local governance system was recognized by Constitution. The 73rd Constitution Amendment Act, effective since 1993, provided panchayat institutions a number of responsibilities and the accompanying power in diverse areas --- at least on paper. In empowering the panchayati raji Institutions (PRIs), special attention was paid to the socially disadvantaged groups identified as the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, as well as women. At each of the three levels, elections are made mandatory to form panchayat, with special reservation for the representation of women and Scheduled Castes. For the tribal communities, a separate Panchayat Act was legislated in 1996. The objective of this panchayat-based decentralization effort stipulated Constitution is to achieve 'social justice' and 'economic development' in respective jurisdiction. Thus the objective of decentralization is inseparable from that of local development. A key responsible agency in the decentralization process is State Government. The direction and pace of decentralization at district, block and village levels depend on enactment and implementation of the Panchayat Act by the governments of each state/union, in accordance with the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act legislated in 1992. From :

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Professor, Ecological Economics Unit. Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore – Inde

Research Associate, Ecological Economics Unit, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore – Inde

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