The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has prepared a draft standard for the drinking water supply system, which aims to act as a “benchmark” for maintaining water quality and developing a uniform process for states opting to implement it.
BIS officials said the draft standard has been developed keeping in view the Centre’s Jal Jeevan Mission for providing safe and adequate drinking water to all rural households by 2024 through individual tap connections.
It lays down the requirements for water utilities, including procurement of raw water, its treatment, distribution, quality maintenance and responsibilities of the management.
A BIS official, who did not wish to be named, said, “A standard was already in place for drinking water as a product, but in view of the Jal Jeevan Mission, we felt we should develop a standard that covers all aspects of water supply.”
The official added that there are certain water supply processes being followed in rural and underdeveloped parts of the country but they are based on government circulars and orders and are not uniform.
The draft mentions that treatment of water and its distribution should be done in a manner that ensures that at the customer point of distribution, the water quality conforms to the Indian Standard (IS) 10500 developed by the BIS.
Officials from the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), which provides water to the city, said the draft standard prepared by the BIS would not cause much difference to their supply system as its water quality is “better than BIS standards”.
“It would, however, make the system more uniform and would not leave room for contention over water quality,” a DJB official said.
The BIS has invited comments from water utilities, including the DJB, on the draft. After it is notified, states wishing to implement the standard can approach the BIS for a license, the BIS official said. The decision on making the standard mandatory would lie with the Ministry of Jal Shakti, the official added.
Quality of drinking water became a contentious issue in November last year when a BIS report, released by Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, found Delhi’s tap water quality as the worst among 21 metros and state capitals in the country.
The report also found that tap water in 13 state capitals, including Bhopal, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai, did not comply with BIS standards.
In Delhi, the BIS had drawn water samples from 11 locations, including one from Paswan’s official residence — something which Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said was not representative for a city like Delhi, where 2,000 water samples should have been drawn to give a comprehensive picture.
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