Despite access to safe drinking water being considered a basic necessity and right of every citizen in the country, there are several thousands of people who are denied this rightful fundamental need…
Did you know that millions of Indian citizens are living without safe water and their households, schools, workplaces and farms are struggling to thrive with whatever is available?
‘Safe water’ is short for a ‘safely managed drinking water service’- Water that is accessible on the premises, available when needed, and free from contamination.
On the occasion of World Water Day (22 March), we invited Col S G Dalvi (Retd.), National Coordinator (Water Conservation The Climate Reality Project, India) to share his professional analysis of water supply management problems in major cities across India.
2.1 billion people live without safe water at home.
In India around 18 crore (180 million) people do not have access to safe water. Most of these people stay in rural areas.
700 million (70 Crore) people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030.
“In India, people from water scarce areas are already moving in to the big cities, leaving only their elders back in the villages.
With rising global warming, growing population, depleting forest cover, polluted surface water bodies and rapidly depleting ground water table, availability of water has reduced drastically,” quotes Col S G Dalvi (retd.).
Let us analyse water supply management problems in major cities across India. I have taken Pune water supply model along with problems faced:
De-silting of Dam Reservoirs: As per Central Water Commission’s report, majority of dams in India have not de-silted dam reservoirs, resulting in around 30 % reduction reservoir water storing capacity.
Unequal water distribution: In most of the rapidly growing cities, civic authorities are unable to cater for daily water needs of citizens, resulting in less than authorised daily water supply of 135 liters of water per person. In Pune it varies from around 350 litres to 80 litres of water per person. Such people depend on ground water or tanker water to meet their needs.
Leakage in water supply pipes: Around 40% of water is lost in leakages in most of the cities. This leads to less availability of water to people.
Depleting ground water table: Due to less availability of daily water supply, more and more citizens resort to unsustainable over extraction of ground water. Around 80 % rural drinking water schemes and 60 % urban water needs including water for construction purpose leads to rapid depletion of ground water table.
Recycle and Reuse of grey water: Around 65 litres of daily use of water gets converted in to grey water. Presently this source of water is wasted. By recycling and re-using availability of daily water can be increased.
Non implementation of ground water recharge policies: In India most of the states and majority of big cities have ground water recharge policies, however due to lack of awareness and implementation, these policies have not yielded desired result of improving ground water table.
Industry water supply: Industry consumes around 22 % of fresh water available. However due to non-implementation of ground water recharge using roof top rain water is putting pressure on water supply management. By making roof top rain water harvesting to recharge ground water table and meet their daily water needs, industry can safely reduce 10 % of water need. This will help increase water availability.
Depleting forest cover: Rapidly depleting tree cover reduces rain water percolation thus, reducing natural recharge of ground water table. Also reduced tree cover leads to reduced oxygen generation, reduced greenhouse gas absorption, rise ambient temperatures, increased soil erosion etc.
Unless and until each stake holder, especially the civic authorities take immediate action on these aspects, availability of water for the citizens will continue to be threatened. Consequently, the dream of providing safe water to all will remain just a dream on paper.
We must consider the adverse effects of rising Global Warming on natural resources like Water. Global Warming has already impacted the monsoon season.
Collective efforts by community stake holders to resolve water availability is the need of hour”, adds Dalvi.