An estimated 12.2 per cent of urban households rely on bottled water for their drinking water needs — up from 2.7 per cent 10 years ago. The finding is part of the National Statistical Office’s latest report, which comes against the backdrop of the Centre preparing to roll out the Jal Jeevan Mission, which aims to provide tap water to all rural households by 2024.
In fact, bottled water has emerged as the third principal source of drinking water in urban households — behind ‘piped water into dwelling’ (40.9 per cent) and ‘piped water to yard/plot’ (16 per cent) — during July-December 2018, when NSO’s survey was conducted. The report also states that one in four urban households rely on water purifiers.
In rural areas, the share of households relying on sealed bottles for their drinking water needs went from 0.5 per cent in 2008 to 4 per cent in 2018. Seventeen sources of drinking water were assessed for the NSO report.
In two states — Andhra Pradesh (29.8 per cent of households) and Telangana (28.7 per cent of households) — bottled water was the largest source of drinking water. In Karnataka (21.3 per cent), Puducherry (20 per cent) and Delhi (14.1 per cent), it was the second principal source of drinking water. “Generally this packaged drinking water meets certain safety standards and is considered safe for drinking,” said the report, ‘Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition’.
The report also shed light on the widespread use of water purifiers, especially in urban India, where 26.3 per cent of households used purifiers (20.8 per cent electric and 5.5 per cent non-electric) to treat drinking water.
Other methods to make water safe for drinking include boiling; treatment with alum, bleach or chlorine tablets; or using a filter fitted with cloth. However, 50.9 per cent of households in urban areas did not use any kind of method to treat drinking water.
In rural areas, only 27.3 per cent of households treated water before drinking.
As per the report, Delhi tops the list of 36 states and UTs in the use of electric water purifiers — 36.5 per cent of households in the capital rely on one to treat drinking water. Punjab came a close second (35.9 per cent), followed by Uttarakhand (21.8 per cent), Haryana (19 per cent) and Gujarat (16.5 per cent). In Tripura, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Daman and Diu, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, less than 5 per cent of homes used an electric purifier.
The report, released by NSO under the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, is based on a survey of 1,06,838 households. According to the survey, during July-December 2018, the estimated number of households in India was 27.11 crore (17.83 crore rural and 9.27 crore urban).