Editor’s Note: This post is a part of #InDeepShit, by WaterAid India and Youth Ki Awaaz to understand the reality behind the inhumane practise of manual scavenging in India. You can speak up against this form of discrimination and share your views by publishing a story here.
Water is just one of those things that you take for granted as long as you have it, but the moment you run short, your whole life can come to a stop.
It is surprising to see how little we seem to care about a resource, the absence of which can literally bring an end to life as we know it. The manner in which we waste water makes dystopic representations of water wars shown in movies like ‘Mad Max’ a highly possible future.
And we seem to be taking a step closer to ‘doom’ each day. According to a report by IndiaSpend, India is facing the worst crisis in a decade, with a severe shortage likely to spread out throughout the country. Seeing the rate of population growth, the amount of pressure it puts on resources, and the measures being taken (and not taken) to save water, India could soon face drought-like conditions in most parts of the country.
This World Water Day, let’s take a look at the extreme water conditions we are facing:
1. Accessibility is a major concern in rural India, and women are primarily burdened with the task of fetching water, and 17% have to walk over a kilometre to reach the closest clean water source.
2. While some official data states that 86% households in India have access to drinking water, the reality is far from it. These figures count hand pumps and tube wells as sources of drinking water, whereas the quality of water from these sources is a carrier for many diseases. According to the 2011 Census, only 2/3rd of homes have no facility for drinking water.
3. Owing to these numbers, India now has the largest number of people in the world who are living without safe water.
4. The lack of clean drinking water has had a major impact on health. Of the 3,15,000 people dying globally because of diarrheal diseases, 45% are from India.
5. Currently, there are 100 million people in India who live in places with polluted water.
6. A recent report by the Central Pollution Control Board states that at least 650 towns and cities lie along the banks of polluted rivers, which severely affects the quality of groundwater in these places.
7. More than half of India’s groundwater is contaminated, with 276 districts having high levels of fluoride, and 387 districts with extreme levels of nitrate, and high arsenic in 86 districts.
8. The availability of water per person (annual per capita availability) has been on the decline since 1947. From 6042 cubic metres, it has gone down to 1545 cubic metres in 2011.
9. There is not enough water to irrigate over 74% of the farmland in India, and this shortage is only growing. With unreliable monsoon, this is likely to create a massive food shortage in the country.
10. Going by current trends, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortage by 2025. Conflicts over water would cost us dearly.