Thursday, July 29, 2010


Multidimensional challenges is worsening water crisis

I have heard people say that the next world war would be fought over water! I don’t know how much to believe in the statement, but it definitely indicates that water is becoming a precious resource! Probably that’s the reason that only few concerns have managed to attract the same pre-eminence as ‘drinking water’ in the deliberation on how to manage its shortage, and at the same time escaped of being termed a cliché. Several studies have, time and again, fortified the verity about water being critical for economic, social and environmental development. For India, the problem of water is actually not an old phenomenon. Given the fact that India was blessed with adequate rainfall and with ever-fl owing rivers, the whole issue of water crisis was never an issue. But then the irony is that during the monsoon months, the same regions which get literally submerged into water face water crisis straight after few weeks itself.

Needless to state that whether it is a city or a town, it is the under privileged who suffer the most on account of shortage of water. Not only do they face consequences related to health, but are also subjected to discrimination. According to reports, the poor oft en end up paying 5-10 times more price per litre of water than their counterparts dwelling in the same region. That’s just one aspect of the problem. Another issue is that of contamination. The availability of contaminated water is so high in India that as per UNICEF, every second child in rural India drinks the same. Surveys further reveal that a staggering 50 per cent of water sources in India have become contaminated. After this, the fact that almost 37.7 million people are affected due to water borne diseases should not come as a surprise to anyone. The contamination in water has reached a level where presence of arsenic, lead, fluoride and other toxics is rampant. More than 70 million people (in around 20 Indian states) are in danger due to excess fluoride and around 10 million are at risk due to excess arsenic in groundwater.

Not only contamination, but access to safe drinking water is no less than a struggle in our country. The problem of water shortage has left virtually no part of the country untouched. The scenario of rural India can be imagined well when on an average, water is typically available for only a few hours a day in Indian cities and the situation worsens in summers. With over 85 per cent of the rural population depending on groundwater - this again is reported to fall exponentially – for instance, in Gujarat, the water table is dropping by as high as six metres per year. On the same lines, rapid urbanisation is leading to notable decline in the per capita availability of fresh water, which was 5,150m3 in the year 1947 and is expected to go down to 1,600m3 by 2017 and touch a mark of 1,000m3 by 2025! The escalating water crisis is not just increasing political rifts (conflict over the rights to the Krishna river) but is also creating social upheaval (in 2007, more than 30,000 Orissa’s farmers resisted against factories using its waters). Not to negate the multiple petty fights, at times leading to gruesome murders that take place all across the nation.

Water conservation is still a misnomer in our country. Tested and tried successful methods like rainwater harvesting are rarely practiced in India. Let alone rain water harvesting, issues like wastage of water during transmission (around 40 per cent in metros), unauthorised connection, urban water mafia, water stealing, illegal bottling plants and so on and so forth are blatantly overlooked. In short, as of now, water is too much taken for granted!



  1. thanks for the simple english and low statistics..earlier i thought of being a masters in both english and statistics to read your blogs..this time you thought of common people's linguistics..well subjected blog..hope to know more from you on many more things..

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  3. But the fact is also true that one would observe the maximum wastage of water in the same socio economic cadre as u mentioned, who starve for water .