Odisha is lagging behind many states in providing piped water supply to schools and it is ranked no 8 from the bottom in the all India ranking, according to a data from the Ministry of Jal Sakti.
The state has provided piped water supply only to 48% of the schools, which was much lower than all India average of 66%.
The only consolation is neighbouring West Bengal and Jharkhand are also not better off. Both the states rank at the bottom with piped water supply to schools at 14%.
However, Bihar is much ahead with 99%, whereas Andhra Pradesh has 100% piped water supply in schools.
Apart from Andhra Pradesh, other states such as Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, and UT of Andaman & Nicobar Islands have provided clean tap water supply in all schools, ashramshalas and anganwadi centres.
Once schools open after Covid-19 pandemic, safe tap water to children will greatly contribute in their better health, improved sanitation and hygiene.
To ensure safe tap water to children, on September 29 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to all states and UTs, to reach every school and anganwadi centre with tap water connection on priority basis.
Subsequently, a campaign was launched by the Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on October 2, 2020 to bring awareness and a sense of urgency to provide clean drinking water to children across the country.
In less than 10 months, as a result of this sustained campaign, 6.85 lakh schools, 6.80 lakh anganwadi centres and 2.36 lakh GPs/ CHCs have tap water supply for drinking water and cooking mid-day meal, 6.18 lakh schools have tap water in toilets/ urinals and 7.52 lakh schools have tap water hand washing facility.
Due to unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene, children are susceptible to water-borne diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, etc.
Repeated infections due to consumption of unsafe water and poor sanitation in formative years of children may lead to adverse health effects like stunting.
In areas where water sources are contaminated with Arsenic, Fluoride, heavy metals, etc.,prolonged consumption of contaminated water may lead to serious health issues.
Therefore, under this campaign, tap water supply of prescribed quality is being provided for drinking and cooking mid-day meal, for handwashing and in toilets/ urinals of schools and anganwadi centres.