CORP talk on ‘Drink from Tap Mission in Puri, Odisha: Implications for Future Urban Water Projects’


The Scaling City Institutions for India (SCI-FI) project, Centre for Policy Research and WaterAid India are pleased to invite you to: CORP talk on ‘Drink from Tap Mission in Puri, Odisha: Implications for Future Urban Water Projects’

Welcome, Introductions and Vote of Thanks:

Shubhagato Dasgupta, Senior Fellow and Anindita Mukerjee, Senior Researcher, CPR

About the seminar

India has made substantial progress in enhancing access to piped water supply among urban households over the last few years, but access is still not universal. Further, more than half of the urban households lack access to treated piped water supply within their premises. A study conducted by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in 2019 revealed that 83 per cent of the 210 water supply samples drawn from the national capital and 20 other state capitals did not conform to the national water quality standards. It suffices to say that the quality and reliability of water supply continue to be dubious for most urban households. While the discourse regarding round-the-clock (or, 24X7) water supply in cities/towns has been a longstanding one and some ULBs and water utilities have attempted implementing such initiatives, these have been few and far apart and most have faltered during scale up. Further, ensuring a quality of piped water supply that enables ‘drinking from tap’, which is a norm in many global cities, has so far been missing as an agenda item in the Indian context.

With this background, the initiatives in urban water supply being spearheaded by the Housing and Urban Development Department (H&UDD), Government of Odisha are distinctive and unique. In 2016, the H&UDD initiated a program to ensure universal access to piped water supply for all urban dwellers. The program rightly prioritised the inclusion of excluded settlements and communities (slums and other informal settlements) within the fold of the program irrespective of their land tenure and legal status. Leveraging several institutional, technical and financial innovations, the program has been able to achieve remarkable results in terms of expansion of the water supply network, an enhanced quantity of water supply, and an increase in the number of households with on-premises water connections.

Given that the overall objective of the program was to ensure universal access to ‘safe’ and ‘reliable’ piped water supply, following the achievement of the latter goal, the H&UDD was quick to shift its focus to improving the quality of water supply. In 2019, it launched the Drink from Tap Mission following a city wide approach at Bhubaneshwar and Puri. Resultantly, in July 2021, Puri became the first city in India to achieve a ‘drink from tap’ quality water supply and metering of 100 percent of water connections – thereby joining the league of cities such as London, New York and Singapore. The program has benefitted about 250,000 residents and 20 million tourists that visit the heritage city every year.

The project has the distinction of being commissioned within nine months of its commencement. Several innovations have bolstered the programme and its sustainability, including an Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) campaign which was instrumental in getting all stakeholders on board, engagement of Self-Help Groups in the monitoring of water quality at a local level, addressing the menace of plastic waste through installation of water fountains, among many others. While the H&UDD, Government of Odisha is committed to scaling up the Drink from Tap Mission to cover other cities and towns in the state, the experience from Puri and the Mission can serve as a source of inspiration and learning for cities and towns across the country as they plan and implement similar initiatives. Further, the learnings can be instrumental in identifying reforms and policy action and outlining a training and capacity building plan for state and local governments towards the speedy and smooth implementation of these initiatives.

The present CORP talk aims to facilitate this cross-learning by bringing together representatives from the H&UDD (Government of Odisha) and the Government of India, sector experts, and researchers to deliberate on the Drink from Tap Mission in Puri, Odisha.

CORP Seminar Series

This is the 23rd in a series of the Community of Research and Practice (CORP) seminar hosted by the Scaling City Institution for India (SCI-FI) initiative. The seminar series seeks to provide a platform for discussing the experiences of researchers and practitioners on urban sanitation.

Scaling City Institutions for India (SCI-FI): The Scaling City Institutions for India: Water and Sanitation (SCI-FI: Water and Sanitation) programme nested at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) since 2013, is a multidisciplinary research, outreach and policy support initiative. It aims to better understand the intersection of governance and scale in the Indian urbanising landscape with sector specific social and economic characteristics. The programme seeks to understand reasons for poor sanitation, and to examine how these might be related to technology, service delivery models, institutions, governance financial issues, and socio-economic dimensions. Based on research findings, it seeks to support national, state and city authorities to develop policies and programmes for intervention with the goal of increasing access to inclusive, safe and sustainable sanitation. The programme is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and UNICEF India