Clean drinking water, proper healthcare, access to good roadways and electricity still a concern in rural India, says report

Mumbai: Up to 23 million households in over 2,92,000 villages are without electricity, 7 percent (43,000) villages without mobile services, 17 percent rural habitations without clean drinking water and 25 percent of 14 to 18 year-olds (nearly 88 million) in rural areas cannot read basic text in their own language.

This data reflects those left out of India’s growth story in the country’s rural areas, home to 833 million or 69 percent of the population, according to various data sets analysed by IndiaSpend.

As India’s economy grew seven-fold over 25 years to Rs 121.9 lakh crore in 2016-17, moving to the world’s fifth largest over this period, per capita income increased more than four times–from Rs 15,766 to Rs 82,269–during the same period.

Out of 6,40,932 villages in India, (5,97,608 inhabited and 43,324 uninhabited) all inhabited villages have been electrified according to the government, although this is unverified but over 23 million households in rural areas are without electricity.

Saubhagya, electrify. Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Out of more than 219 million rural households, 195 million, or 89 percent have been electrified, official data shows. Out of 23 million rural households to be electrified, Uttar Pradesh leads the list with over 12 million households, followed by Assam (1.9 million) and Odisha (1.8 million) as on 22 August, 2018.

As many as 18,374 Indian villages got electricity over three years to 2018, but in no more than 1,425 villages (8 percent) do all households have electricity, according to the government’s GARV dashboard.

The first mobile phone call in India was made in 1995, now 23 years later, 43,000 odd inhabited villages do not have mobiles services as on 27 July, 2018, according to government data. Odisha has the most villages (9,940) without mobile services, followed by Maharashtra (6,117) and Madhya Pradesh (5,558).

While mobile phone ownership is increasing, many rural inhabitants still struggle to access electricity for simple daily tasks such as charging a phone, IndiaSpend reported on 17 May, 2018.

Out of 1.7 million rural habitations, over 2,89,000 habitations, or nearly 17 percent have only partial access to clean drinking water (at least 40 litre per capita per day), according to an 8 August, 2018 reply to the Lok Sabha. As many as 62,582 habitations have water that is “quality affected” or contaminated.

Rural road building picking pace

Out of 1,78,184 eligible habitations to be covered under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) or the Prime Minister’s Rural Roads Programme, which was started in 2000 to ensure all-weather roads across villages, as many as 31,022 or 17 percent habitations are yet to be connected, according to this reply to the Lok Sabha on 22 March, 2018.

Rural road building increased from 24,161 kilometre in 2012-2013 to 47,447 kilometre in 2016-2017, rural development ministry data shows. Over 6,26,377 kilometres of rural roads have been built till March 31, 2016, under PMGSY since the launch, according to data from the road transport ministry.

Houses being built

Out of a target of building over 9.9 million houses in villages implemented under the PMGSY, only 4.5 million or 45 percent have been completed, rural ministry data shows. While 10.76 million beneficiaries have been registered under the scheme, only 8.9 million houses have been sanctioned.

Healthcare still a worry

There was a 19 percent shortfall in Health Sub-centres, 22 percent shortfall in Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and 30 percent shortfall in Community Health Centres (CHCs) by the end of March 2017, according to data from the Rural Health statistics. While Sub-centres cover a population of 5,000 in the rural areas, PHCs cover 30,000 people and CHCs cover 120,000 people.

PHC, the first contact point between the village community and the medical officer, has a shortfall of nearly 46 percent for female health assistants and 60 percent for male health assistants. For allopathic doctors, there was a 12 percent shortfall, mainly due to lack of doctors at PHCs in Uttar Pradesh (1,412), Chhattisgarh (444) and Odisha (340).

Even as health crises in India grew, National Health Mission (NHM) funds un-spent by states for over five years to 2016, increased by 29 percent, according to a recent audit by the government’s auditor, IndiaSpend reported on 20 August, 2018.

There is a 24 percent to 38 percent shortfall in the availability of medical personnel at PHCs, Sub-centres, and CHCs in 28 states and union territories of India, according to the latest audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, IndiaSpend reported on 21 August, 2018.

The CAG survey found that 73 percent Sub-centres were more than 3 kilometres from the remotest village, 28 percent were not accessible by public transport and 17 percent were unhygienic, we reported.

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Learning still a concern

About 25 percent of the 14-18 age group (88 million) in rural areas still cannot read basic text fluently in their own language, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2017 by Pratham, an advocacy. Over 86 percent of youth in the 14-18 age group in rural areas are still within the formal education system, either in school or college, the report said.

In 2017, Pratham, which has been doing the ASER report since 2005, focused on an older age group - youth who are 14 to 18 years old and have moved just beyond the elementary school age. “Near-universal enrollment and automatic promotion through the elementary stage have resulted in more and more children successfully completing elementary schooling,” the report said.

More than half of students struggle with division problems. The ability to do division can be thought of as a proxy for the ability to do basic arithmetic operations. While 53 percent of all 14-year-olds in the sample could read English sentences, for the 18-year-old youth, this figure was closer to 60 percent.


Updated Date: Aug 29, 2018 16:34 PM

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