There are many facilities which need to be provided to everyone. These are known as public facilities. Examples: healthcare, sanitation, electricity, public transport, schools, colleges, drinking water, etc.
The Constitution recognizes that right to water is a part of the Right to Life under Article 21. So, it is government’s duty to provide safe drinking water to every citizen.
One important characteristic of public facility is that once it is provided its benefit can be shared by many people. For example; if a school comes up in a locality, many children are benefited from that school. Similarly, if a road is built through a village then many people are benefited from the road.
Role of Government in Providing Public Facilities:
- The government has to ensure universal access to a public facility.
- The government has to provide a facility either without a charge or at a charge which is affordable to the masses.
Private companies may also be interested in providing public facilities. But profit maximization is the main goal of a private company. This will result in hefty charges which can be affordable to select number of people. This will defeat the purpose of universal access to a public facility. Hence, usually it is the government which provides public facilities.
However, there are many examples of private players providing public facilities. For example; the electricity distribution is in the hands of private companies in New Delhi. In such a case, the government has to put in place proper checks and balances to keep the charges under limit.
According to Urban Water Committee a person in urban area needs at least 135 litre of water per day for quality life. But a person living in slum gets only 20 litre water per day.
Water Supply in Cities
Water is supplied by the Jal Board or Water Board which comes under the municipality in a city. Water supply is however inadequate in most of the cities. People who live close to pumping stations or storage tanks get better supply of water. But people who live further away may not get adequate water supply. Leakage in pipelines further compounds the problem.
The municipality also makes arrangement for water tankers in case a particular locality does not get water supply for a particular period. But tanker mafia has a stranglehold over supply by water tankers. This makes the water costly for most of the people. Only middle class and upper class people are in a position to pay the money demanded by the tanker mafia.
Many people dig bore-wells and install water pumps to compensate for inadequate water supply. Many people use water purifiers to get safe drinking water. But such facilities are out of the reach of poor people.
While situation is somewhat comfortable in cities, most of the villages and town do not get adequate supply of water.