Representational image (Photo | AP)
Representational image (Photo | AP)

Efficient water managememt can avert looming crisis

Contaminated drinking water is taking a toll on people in Karnataka. The latest report comes from Gonal village in Ballari district, where a young girl died, and 20 fell sick.

Contaminated drinking water is taking a toll on people in Karnataka. The latest report comes from Gonal village in Ballari district, where a young girl died, and 20 fell sick. A youth in Kananakatte village of Davangere district lost his life a few days ago. In the first week of June, as many as five people died in Raichur city in the wards found to be receiving untreated water; the filtration unit, it was discovered, was not cleaned for five years.

The phenomenon is not limited to Karnataka. It is a national tragedy. The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) estimates that consuming contaminated water leads to nearly two lakh deaths yearly. That is a significant number in absolute terms though it may seem like a fraction of the country’s population. Ironically, after almost 75 years of Independence, and with the Constitution guaranteeing the right to life, people die of drinking stained water simply because they cannot access clean water.

The Union government is aware of the looming crisis. That is why a full-fledged ministry called the Jal Shakti Ministry is in place. Its Jal Jeevan Mission aims at providing clean drinking water to every household—a challenging task considering the question: “Where will clean water come from?”
A NITI assessment says nearly 70% of India’s underground and surface freshwater is contaminated. The aquifers—the underground rocky channels which hold groundwater replenished by rain—are also getting depleted or affected in populated and industrial areas, mainly due to the digging of bore wells and untreated sewage mixing with water.

People are still not familiar with rainwater harvesting. It is imperative to spread awareness about it, and its hygienic use, on a war footing. As per the Central Water Commission records, India’s annual water requirement is 3,000 billion cubic metres. Agriculture alone needs 80% of this water. However, India receives only 4,000 cubic metres of rain annually. Rainwater harvesting, proper water treatment systems and best irrigation practices—apart from stringent water conservation measures—are the best measures needed to avoid a water crisis that India is otherwise headed towards.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com