ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Contours of Access to Water and Sanitation in India

Drawing on the Right to Live with Human Dignity

Improving the access to water and sanitation for all sections of society has been a significant development priority in recent decades in India and the same has been juxtaposed with advocacy for water and sanitation to be recognised as the legal human rights. However, very limited attention has been paid to seeing water and sanitation as a legal right for the populace, despite the debate over the abysmally low indicators of hygienic parameters for the vulnerable sections of society. Whereas Article 21 of the Constitution enunciates Right to Life in its multidimensional manifestations, including the right to safe drinking water, reflections on the findings of the NSS 69th round (which looks at the conditions of drinking water and sanitation in India, among other things) critically examines the availability of the water and conditions of sanitation for Indians. The right to water does not mean mere availability of water but water of standard quality so as to ensure healthy life of an individual. This article attempts to assess the hygienic conditions from the point of view of international benchmarks as also the effectiveness of rights provided under the Constitution and in other statutory documents with regard to water and sanitation.

Pankaj K P Shreyaskar ( is Director, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India.

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