India Appeals to Companies to Fund Water Pipes, Toilets

India, where about 37 million people are made ill by water-borne diseases each year, some fatally, is courting corporate aid to finance and build water pipelines and toilets to help improve rural health conditions.

The government plans to ask companies to assist in the funding and construction of water works as part of a corporate social responsibility appeal to increase piped supplies to 55 percent of rural households by 2017 from 35 percent now, said Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation joint secretary Satyabrata Sahu.

India spent 97 billion rupees ($1.6 billion) to boost piped water to rural homes in the year ending March 2014. The nation of 1.24 billion people is trying to cut dependence on groundwater sources, depleted by farmers and industrial needs as well as too often contaminated, with the corporate appeal, Sahu said in an interview in New Delhi.

India has 18 percent of the Earth’s population, second-most after China, and 4 percent of its water resources. The 37-million figure for those made ill in India annually is almost 3 percent of its populace, or nearing the number of people in Canada. Water availability in India per person dropped 15 percent in a decade, according to a 2011 census that cited agricultural overuse and industrial extraction.

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